Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Painting Technique - Painting the Negative Space

When using acrylic paint you can add layers of light colour to increase the definition of a pale area. However another option is to paint in the negative area to highlight the pale area.

This is a very good technique and can make your paintings more interesting. It is also an easy way to add detail to a flat area of colour.

The example is just a small section of a painting but it shows how this simple technique can quickly add interest with the minimum effort!

In this example

Always try to contrast light and dark areas in a picture. When you have this kind of contrast it is easy to paint in some of the negative areas because one of the adjoining sections will be in a darker colour.

(I think that it is more successful to paint in negative areas with a darker colour, but if you want to try to use a lighter colour over a darker one be sure to use the paint more thickly.)

In this case the dark colour is used to make the top of the pale area jagged; this makes the pale area look more grass like.

In the example the darker colour was used to paint in the negative area behind the grasses and then faded into the background area. The unevenness of the stone wall made this easy, but if the negative area was smooth you can just blend the colour using water to thin it. By leaving a darker edge next to the pale colour you get a nice contrast too.

Use this technique

To add definition to any areas you feel needs it. It would be good for darkening the area to the side of a tree trunk and make the trunk stand out a bit more. Ideal for the trunk of a silver birch, just add some extra dark shades to the area at the side of the trunk to give the trunk more contrast and this helps to make the trunk more three dimensional too.

It is great for forest paintings as you can hint at more trees in the background without giving them too much detail.

Top Tip – the greatest contrast areas are always in the foreground of a picture. Make sure you have the contrast between the colours suitable for the distance in the painting, i.e. not too much contrast for areas in the distance.
Visit the Learn and Do website at to find out more about The Acrylic Painting Course. Check out the free preview of the course too.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Titanium White and the Meanings Given to the Colour White

This post is a look at Titanium White and the meanings given to the colour white.

It is interesting to see that we have probably all eaten this colour’s usual pigment!

Titanium White

At Wikipedia it says – “The main modern white hiding pigment is Titanium dioxide. (A naturally occurring oxide of titanium)

Some pigments are toxic, such as the lead pigments that are used in lead paint. Paint manufacturers began replacing white lead pigments with the less toxic substitute, titanium white (titanium dioxide), even before lead was functionally banned in paint for residential use.

Titanium dioxide, also known as titanium(IV) oxide or titania, is the naturally occurringoxide of titanium, chemical formula TiO2. When used as a pigment, it is called titanium white, Pigment White 6, or CI 77891.

It is noteworthy for its wide range of applications, from paint to sunscreen to food colouring. It is employed as a pigment to provide whiteness and opacity to products such as paints, coatings, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines (i.e. pills and tablets) as well as most toothpastes.

Used as a white food colouring, it has E number E171. In cosmetic and skin care products, titanium dioxide is used both as a pigment and a thickener. It is also used as a tattoo pigment and styptic pencils

This pigment is used extensively in plastics and other applications for its UV resistant properties where it acts as a UV reflector.”

White paints can also be made from other white pigments such as chalk (not in oil) and zinc white, as well as titanium white.

This explains why white acrylic paint is opaque and not suitable for a lot of the watercolour techniques, as discussed in The Acrylic Painting Course. And how it can be used to over-paint any areas that do not turn out!!

Do you want to learn to paint? Find out more about The Acrylic Painting Course at

Some Meanings for White -

The white flag is the universal symbol for truce.

The ancient Greeks wore white to sleep in so that they would have pleasant dreams. The ancient Persians believed that all gods wore white.

A white sale is a sale of sheets, towels and other bed and bath items.

In the 20th century western brides have worn white to symbolise innocence and purity.

In China white is the colour of mourning.

It is worn by doctors and nurses to show that cleanliness is important and to ensure that their garments are clean and dirt-free.

A white knight is a rescuer.

To whitewash over something is to make it seem presentable when it is not!

White reflects light and is considered to be a summer colour. It is popular in fashion and decorating as it is light and neutral.