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How to leave blank spaces in watercolor

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How to leave blank spaces in watercolor. Leaving unpainted areas of the paper for bright white shapes is one of the fundamental principles, and the most incredible emotions, of going with watercolor. I first sense this method of writing to create brilliant whites through the work of Ted Kauzky. Across the years, I have grown up with some basic guidelines on how to leave blank spaces in watercolors. I use these strategies to plan and design paper targets in my work.

Rate white

When it comes to saving whites, many beginners mistakenly believe that they should leave those areas out when painting. While it is technically accurate that the white areas are “excluded,” visually speaking, it is wrong. To combine them into the structure, unpainted white spaces require planning. Before picking up a brush, I visualize the whites of my paper as if I had painted them. In the same way, I would request any color. I think of my whites versus adjacent painted areas, considering hue, hue, and intensity.

The trash can reads teal on Arab Street in Plein Air, though much is left blank. The same is true of the building on the left, where shadows lead us to believe that the largely unpainted wall is yellowish-brown. In extension to building the effect of lightning, the difference in hue and color between these states and the around colors makes the whites reach out. Using a natural or high-intensity space for the atmosphere, I intensified the impact of the white wall.

The hidden depths of my target

The trick to any painting is to represent a three-dimensional subject on a two-dimensional surface. It can help visually calculate the shapes and sizes of the targets throughout the composition. One way to produce the vision of space and gravity on a two-dimensional exterior is to layer shapes. In Chinatown Temple Street Impression, whites vary in size and shape and appear in different places in the painting, interacting with other forms of color. The overlay effect allows the viewer’s focus to move in and out of the image plane, producing a sense of length and dimension. The design and installation of these overlying white shapes measure the speed at which observers move through the work, building a visual swing for the procedure.

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Sets the tone of white

spaces in watercolor

Tonal design, including white spaces, rules the state of an image. In part, the result depends on the overall rate of whites to glow. For example, a sunny day may require a white unpainted area, while a gloomy day may have less. In Moro Island before Rain, the cloudy sky gives way to one last ray of sunlight, shining down on the row of buildings. Although this light area provides a solid tonal contrast to the surrounding space, it is relatively small. Only about 20 percent of the total paint surface. In comparison, about 60 percent of the shades in this painting are darker than shade 5. The small light area within a generally dark image produces the depressed atmosphere associated with an impending storm.

Lead the way with the whites

The viewer’s focus is usually drawn to the light of unpainted white areas in a painting, especially where the significant tonal differences are in the surrounding areas. By carefully arranging your white shapes, you can draw attention to the entire layout by butterfly drawing. In The Sartor at Clive Street, the visual trip through the design begins with the white area in the foreground. From there, the gaze moves to the fabric that leads to the tailor, who presents the history of the image. Then it pushes into the canopy above. Finally, it is connected by the voltage to the white balance zone next to the plant in the lower right corner before returning to the ground again. In this way, the white areas create a perpetual visual sequence that keeps the viewers in the painting.

Connect the whites

I trained in Chinese calligraphy, so I applied a lot of calligraphic brushstrokes to my watercolors. While I’m not working with white paint, brush strokes play as important a role for my whites as they do for any color. By spreading brushstrokes of color onto my white shapes, I connect those areas and create interest and dimension in my whites, which would otherwise read as sharp, flat shapes. This use of the brushstroke further promotes a sense of visual rhythm by creating connections between contrasting areas with the different widths and edges of the brushstrokes that I create.

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Variety of brush strokes

In Penang Guan Yin Temple 1, I played with various brush strokes, from soft, baggy washes to fine, rough lines, in the foreground. If the white area is positive, the reverse is valid for the foreground shadow. The transition created through the brushstroke, and the creation of soft and hard edges, allows for a natural progression and connection between the two areas. The white and colored areas in the foreground work together so that the positive-negative coupling doesn’t seem too jarring. On top of the painting, I let the smoke from the pots form with very soft edges. Any vigorous brushstroke would have been detrimental to the vaporous effect I needed for the illusion.

In any job, capturing the impression of light is the key to bringing the scene to life. Without the option of white paint on actual watercolor, you have to rely on your paper to create this effect. However, bright, natural whites cannot simply be treated as voids in paint; they must be carefully planned and composed like any other color. With a bit of preparation and these five guidelines, you are well on your way to the most compelling targets.

How to leave blank spaces in watercolor

Step 1

My preparatory work included a tonal study of the scene and a figurative color sketch finished on the spot. I thought about my whites’ hue, tone, and intensity, as I would with any color.

Step 2

I incorporated all the elements of my sketches into a single drawing.

Step 3

Based on my tonal study and the design plan that I drew upon my sketches, I got stuck in large areas. I was already integrating my targets into the overall composition.

Step 4

I started suggesting or portraying some finer details, such as windows, rooflines, people, and merchandise in stores. I kept making connections between the white and colored areas.

Last step

Finally, I studied the general equilibrium of the image. I looked at the whites and colored areas in terms of design, power of texture, space, and connections. Based on what I’ve seen, I made the last changes to the image.

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