Painting should not be stressful or demanding. Painting relaxes me and brings me inner peace. When I sit down to paint I want the outside world to fade away. I find it extremely soothing when I paint negative shapes. This means I’m not painting the object but the negative space or shape outside the object. For instance if you lay your hand down on a piece of paper trace it then paint the entire area outside the line it would result in a negative painting.

Here I will take you step by step through a painting I did entirely by using the negative painting technique.



I lay down a multi colored wash making sure I do not go too dark at this early stage of the painting.



Using a wash slightly darker than the existing background color I negative paint around the image I want to create. In this painting I am painting the shapes of leaves & berries.




I continue to paint outside the shapes of the leaves using a slightly darker wash.



Each time I start a new layer I mix the paint a little darker. This enables the previous layer to appear as I paint around the shapes.



As I create each layer of shapes I am careful to paint around every preexisting shape. NEVER do I paint over any leaf or shape that I previously painted around.

As you watch the painting develop you can see that the lightest shapes, the ones I created with the very first wash, remain on the surface while each additional layer is behind the other. This gives the effect of depth. You see the leaves lying on top of one another. This is also the same way the berries are painted which makes them appear layered.



The final layer of negative painting is the darkest. I am constantly making sure I have interesting shapes and lost & found edges to give the painting added appeal.

These are closeups of the details I have described. You can clearly see the different edges and how the leaves & berries appear to be overlapping each other.



I splattered a silver watercolor paint over the entire painting as my final touch.



I find tranquility when I’m negative painting The way my brain has to focus on the shapes engrosses and captivates my mind pushing out all thoughts except the images in front of me at that very moment.


Paint with Me



~ by Lorraine Rimmelin on August 10, 2012.


  1. THank you for taking us through the process – I’ve always been intrigued by negative painting and just think it looks so complicated which puts me off trying it, would love to have a go though!

  2. I love the composition, and the palette is beautiful.

  3. It’s a very interesting painting but it’s too difficult for me to paint along. Next time can you do something easier so some of us who are only beginners can paint along? Thank you. nga

  4. Thanks nga for the suggestion. I will plan a step by step beginner painting for you to try. I think you will enjoy the process of negative painting.

  5. Thank you Lorraine: I am looking forward to paint along with you. Take care. nga

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