The beautiful white buildings of southern Spain make a great subject for this technique and very little painting is needed! What it is “negative space”? It is the space around the subject. Here’s a quick lesson to show what it is and how to handle it in a jiffy! And don’t forget to sign up to “Win a Trip to Spain” at the end of this blog!

NEGATIVE SPACE is just as important as the positive space, or the subject. Take a look at this photo of the stunning white gate of La Finca del Nino where our Spain workshop is held. Because the gate is white, there’s no need to actually paint it (unless there are shadows. Then you paint those). Instead, you paint only the negative space and voila! The gate shows up on its own!

Take a look. Here is the negative space, which in this case, turns out to be the sky.


The negative spaces are just as important as the subject, so always keep them beautiful and interesting. LET’S PAINT IT. Here’s what you need for this project:


140 lb. cold pressed watercolor paper, cut to 9 x 12

Paint colors: I use Winsor & Newton, but use any brand you have: Cobalt Blue, Ulatramarine Blue, Winsor Violet, Burnt Sienna, Oprah or Quinacridone Red, Permanent Green Light.

Fine Tip Sharpie and ruler.


Paint the negative space, which is the sky.

Mix up a nice rich blue to use for the sky. You want it to be at least a medium, rich mixture so that you’ll have a lot of contrast between the sky (negative space) and the white gate. That contrast will give your painting some drama!

Wet the sky first, just until you see a shine – no puddles and no dry spots. Wet carefully around the gate because the paint will go where the water is. Then pick up the rich blue mix and drop it onto the wet surface, letting it float out as it will. Be sure that it goes all the way up to touch the white and then, by gosh, you’ll see the white gate appear! Don’t touch the beautiful, clean white paper of the gate. Just let it stay as it is. Then stoke on just a touch of Permanent Green Light to indicate the palm tree growing up into the sky. Then stop and let it all dry thoroughly.

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GUESS WHAT? The bushes and shadows on the gate also form negative spaces around the edges of the white gate. So, begin to paint the shadows using Ultramarine Blue and/or Winsor Violet in a medium value, but save plenty of white space on that gate! Keep it as clean and untouched as you can. Here’s a photo to show you where to place the shadows:


Then begin to also paint some of the background behind the gate…a bit of Burnt Sienna on the building and mix a muddied green for the bushes and trees back there (Permanent Green Light + touch of Winsor Violet).

Also, paint in the pots if you wish.


Finish shadows and begin to paint in bushes.

Use Permanent Green Light on dry paper to begin to paint the bushes in sunshine. The Ultramarine Blue shadows already in place will automatically dull the green in the shadowed areas.



Reinforce shadows if needed, and add color with flowers!

Occasionally, you may need to darken the shadows after the green bushes are on. After they have dried, just pick up more shadow blue and put on another wash. No problem for painters such as us, yes?!

And now for the flowers – go thick and juicy with the flower colors. Oprah and/or Quinacrindone Red work well. Place them in patches, here and there.

Paint on the shadows cast onto the patio by the bushes and trees. Working on dry paper paint them on, filling in as you go. (Do not outline and fill it because that outline will dry and you’ll have a rind effect.)

Finally, use the Fine Point black Sharpie and a ruler to draw on the black wrought iron gates. Easy!


Now that you’ve completed this lesson of La Finca – you’re ready to GO TO SPAIN!

If you haven’t heard, we are GIVING AWAY A TRIP TO SPAIN! Click right here to enter to win:

I will be choosing 7 names a week and if you have made it into the final group, I’ll email you to let you know! In the meantime, enter as many times as you wish! I love reading some of your entries, by the way. They make me laugh, cry and one made my hungry. Some of you have a genius not recognized by normal human kind. Ha! But I love that about you.

If you are not interested in Spain, we are also going to Greece (you can get on the wait list) and France (there are some places still open) next year.



We have a great time on our trips! I would love for you to join us.

Thanks so much for reading. And thanks to all of you who share the blog on Facebook with your friends. I appreciate that very much.


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