Negative Space Painting: What It Is And How To Use It In Art

negative space painting in art

Negative space painting is a unique form of art that is often overlooked. This type of painting involves using the space around an object to create a work of art. In this blog post, we will discuss what negative space painting is and how you can use it in your artwork. We will also provide examples of negative space in art, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to create this type of painting using watercolors.

We will cover the following topics;

  • Define negative space in a painting
  • What is negative and positive space in art
  • Step-by-step video tutorial of how to paint it
  • 10 Examples of negative space

Let’s get started, we have a lot to discuss

Define negative space in a painting

Negative space can be used to create shapes and designs that complement the main subject of the painting. In this type of painting, the focus is on the space around the subject, rather than the subject itself.

Negative space often uses light and dark colors to create a sense of depth and dimension. You can use this type of painting to create a variety of effects, such as making an object appear larger or smaller than it is. And, it’s very versatile! It can be used in any subject from landscapes to loose florals.

What is negative and positive space in art?

  • Negative space is the area around an object in a painting. It can be used to create shapes and designs that complement the main subject of the painting.
  • Positive space is the area occupied by the main subject of a painting.

Step-by-step video negative space tutorial

In this video, negative space is being utilized to paint mushrooms. Grab your paint and brushes! This is a fantastic step-by-step guide on how to create a negative space using mushrooms as a motif.

This tutorial will include:

  • How to choose the right colors – When painting negative space you want to start with a very light value. That’s the key! And each color added on top will be darker. Painting light-to-dark is common with watercolors, and a must for this step-by-step negative space tutorial.
  • How to mix colors – Any color combination will do. Feel free to substitute the hues I used for your favorites. So long as you start light and end dark it will be okay.
  • How to create different effects using negative space – The video will go into detail how to paint various effects including a three-dimensional look so the mushrooms look more realistic.

By the end of this tutorial, you will have the knowledge to paint unique and stunning art with negative space. Let’s get started.

10 examples of negative space

Here are 10 beautiful examples of negative space in action. Once you study each one you will have a better idea of the visual impact this has in art.

Negative space painting with birch trees

Birch trees

To create birch trees try using a negative space technique. The paper is first stained with pale magenta, except for the two larger trees. The paint gets darker when you apply each layer. You can create more birch trees when you add new layers around the outer edges.

Pine trees with negative space techniques

Pine trees

I’m illustrating in this example how painting the edges of trees reveals other trees. Study the darker trees for a few minutes and you’ll start to notice how the edges of them actually reveal another tree.

Negative space painting for beginners


This is a great way for beginners to begin learning negative space. Start by finding a jar, or cup, and draw a bunch of circles. Stain the paper very light in value with any color. As you paint each additional layer, leave a few circles behind.

ow to paint clouds with negative space techniques


You can easily use blue colors for the sky to paint white clouds. This is a great way to practice this technique because you don’t need to be so precise!

Palm trees and palmettos painted with watercolor


Notice how the smaller dark strokes on the right-hand side help show the branch structure of the palmettos. A clever way to use negative space in a landscape painting.

Watercolor painting of beach by Andy Evansen
Good boy by Andy Evansen

Background trees

To indicate tree branches and trunks, you can simply paint darker hues for the background. Paint darker shadows are used to describe the edges of the figure and underneath the porch.

negative space painting technique

White buildings

In this example the white buildings are easily created using the distant mountains and thin strip of beach. Add a few light gray shadows and the buildings start to look three-dimensional.

negative space watercolor portrait
– Negative space illustration, source Deviant


To paint the face for the woman, try only painting the shadow shapes. And you can omit painting everything that is in the light. By only painting the shadows, the facial features revealed.

– Negative space illustration, source Deviant


This is an excellent illustration example showing a more complex use of negative space. Positive spaces also become negative spaces as well. Very clever design.

unicorn graphic
– Source Freepik


The flame reveals the unicorn. This is a clean, minimalistic design and works beautifully.


You can create stunning paintings using negative space. In this blog post, we have discussed what negative space is, how to use it in your artwork, and provided examples of this type of painting. We have also included a step-by-step guide on how to create a negative space painting using watercolors.

We hope that you have enjoyed this blog post and that you will now be able to create your negative space paintings. Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it with your friends and family.