The ability to paint negative space is a useful qualification to possess. In watercolour, the background of, for instance, a floral display may be painted in colours that complement or enhance the subject, (the flowers) first. As the artist approaches the central focus they may be left blank or masked off with fluid, and the background layers built upon to form impressions of more foliage. The stems to be left the original colour applied and the negative space around them painted in a deeper hue to highlight them. White flowers benefit from this technique as they only need be shaded in the relevant places. The whole composition is formed by using negative space and leaving the white of the subject to be seen against it. The use of negative space around other subjects applies in a similar way but with more emphasis on the subject matter. The placing of objects against an uninteresting background brings the viewer to focus on the subject but in a much more interesting way if the negative space has been given proper thought. We ignore negative space at our peril.
by Barbara Le Blanc