Positive from Negative


Unfinished paintings making positives using negative space.

“What do you do with everything that is cut away?” she asked Tilman, thinking now about the negative space of stone sculpture, the stone that is discarded, thinking too about how she had thrown away huge pieces of her own early life…”
from The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart.

 With both my only parent and only sibling ill, there is a lot of sadness in my life right now, weighing me down, making it hard to focus on anything—even art. But because art keeps me sane, I have turned to it in bits and pieces, usually ending up in a mess of color and movement. For days I let these paintings on paper lay around, but this past week I decided to find out what if anything was important in these painted, collaged pieces.

So I started with grey paint and the basic rules of visual composition, reminding myself that positive space was the primary focus of a picture and the negative space was the background or the space between objects. I had always thought of negative space as quiet space, but obviously less important than the positive shapes.

But the more I painted, the more I wondered: Should there really be a difference between positive and negative space in importance? Can you have one without the other? In order to tell a complete story, don’t you need both? None of the pieces that are pictured are finished or may never be, but the exercise reinforced to me how critical negative space is in my paintings and how it can highlight the positive.





It’s A Wrap


 My first video is complete, and I feel much like a five-year-old who has finally learned to tie his shoes—though not without tears.

Since I have no technology genes, it took almost two weeks, off and on. Yes, I still remember typewriters and have even used them. So while the video doesn’t have the detail I would like, I’m ( we’re) feeling rather proud. My partner in this venture was my partner in life.

May I also say thank you to those whose posted “how to’s” on You Tube.

Experiments in Simple Printmaking


Overprint of black on canvas paper with deli paper.

A couple months ago I found a tutorial on a blog by Jane Davies. She is a mixed media artist and teacher and is gracious about sharing quite a bit of her work and techniques online. When I saw this one that was similar to a technique I’d used, I had to try it and compare with my own. These are the type of imprecise, organic results I love.

Jane Davies calls this deli paper print. I had taught something similar in my own classes on “Building a Painting,” but I used the technique on clear plastic such as a paint drop cloth. We were also able to transfer the leftover paint to another piece of paper or a canvas using soft gel medium. I wanted to see the differences.

The Technique

Using any color paint (I used black.) make lines, circles, squares, whatever on the deli paper or plastic. Do not put this on too lightly or too thick. Jane Davies’ blog suggests that you use an extender if you were planning to do several. Once complete, turn the deli paper or plastic over and lightly press it to your surface. You can use an object like plastic knitting needle or the edge of an old credit card, etc. and make markings that will also transfer. Keep the pressure light so you don’t get a heavy glob of paint.

Deli Paper

Deli paper is thinner, and it appears that it would be more absorbent, only allowing for a few prints. This was certainly my experience (although I admit I added paint on a third pull). My photos show the results in black on paper canvas.


I tried this on 80# drawing paper as well as watercolor paper. The visual results seemed much the same (see photos) though the plastic gave a little heavier print with texture. One advantage of the plastic may be it doesn’t tear as easily  as deli paper and the leftover paint can be transferred via another technique to canvas or paper.

I have yet to try this on my boards covered with limestone paste, but I will.

Black paint and markings on deli paper
Black paint and markings on plastic
Overprint of black on watercolor paper using plastic for printmaking.
Overprint of black on drawing paper using plastic.

Links: http://janedavies-collagejourneys.blogspot.com/2014/01/deli-paper-prints.html