When I was growing up, one of my favorite places to visit every summer, and oftentimes around Thanksgiving, was grandma and grandpa Miller’s farm in Claremore, Oklahoma. It was a wonderful place for any kid to hang out and I thank my lucky stars that mom was a farm girl. It was, for me, better than any amusement park anywhere. I have many fond memories and many, many stories that could be told of wonderful adventures in the pastures, in the barn, the woods, the house, the garden, the chicken coop, the old outhouse (yeah, there are stories there too!), my word, the list could go on and on. One thing that will I will always carry with me from those days long ago was that no matter what was going on.. anywhere.. the farm was a positive place to be. A lot of that positivity came from the man who was behind that farm. My grandfather. He was always pointing out the positive side of things around me. Stepped in a cow pie? (for you city folks, that’s pure straight up, right from the source, manure… also known as cow poop.) Don’t worry, you’re wearing boots! Don’t worry, it’ll wash right off! Stepped on a snake? Don’t worry, he’s trying to get away from you too! Don’t worry, THAT one isn’t poisonous. For me, for the family, for people he knew, grandpa was a source of wisdom, understanding, and a way to find something positive for dealing with whatever came your way. Have to admit though, finding the positive in today’s environment with all the things that come our way, is a real challenge.
So…. finding the positive when you’re painting can often be a challenge too (and I’m not talking about how you feel or how others feel about your artwork. THAT is a whole different subject matter). I’m talking about a specific style of painting often referred to as “negative painting”. Sounds wonderful! Right? “Hey guys, let’s do a negative painting today!” Wow. Anyway, I’m not fond of doing it … at least with watercolors. Truthfully, negative painting can be beautiful, I usually screw it up. However, with acrylics… was I surprised! And there’s more than one way to do it. Lucky for me.
This particular piece which I’ve titled “Flowers From the Farm”, was actually FUN. A lot of fun, which is probably why so many artists do it. I must admit, this style of painting is very, very different from what I usually do. Which is probably why I haven’t tried it before with this medium. Anyway… It’s done by putting down a background of various colors all over the canvas, then looking for shapes within those colors. Once you identify those shapes you want as part of your final painting, you use a solid color to paint around those shapes you’ve deemed worth holding on to. The shapes you hold on to are the “positive” space and everything else is the “negative” space. Discard the negative space that doesn’t add to or help your painting, and hold on to the positive space! Hey, it’s a LIFE lesson! Haven’t we heard this same advice most of our lives? Find the positive, eliminate the negative, and “son of a gun!” … things look a whole lot better!
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