Negative Shapes: Autumn Leaves

Portrait of Maria Coryell-Martin.

Maria Coryell-Martin


Technique | October 02, 2020

So much of watercolor involves attention to shapes! I like to work from large to small shapes and often start painting the negative spaces between and around objects.

Focusing on shapes also frees me up to experiment with mixing colors wet-in-wet on my paper. I don't need to represent just what's in front of me, I can turn shadows into bright colors or flatten a shape entirely by using a solid tone. Art is about play.

As I work my way down to more detail, I use more precise marks and focus on final touches.

In this leaf sketch, I used four Daniel Smith pigments: Hansa Yellow Medium and Inandthrone Blue for the background, and Quinacridone Gold (such a great color for fall!) and Deep Scarlet for the leaves. I added final highlights with a white Gelly Roll pen, too!