Holst House (Negative)

It’s a well known trick to draw upside down! If you take a photo and turn it upside down before drawing it, you usually get a surprising improvement in the result. It’s because we tend to draw a map of How Things Are instead of drawing How Things Look. Our left brains take over; saying I know what this is and we don’t need to LOOK!

So, much of learning to draw is actually about learning to see. Just as in music where learning to listen becomes a key skill, especially for harmonising or improvising.

I’ve taken the Upside Down Drawing idea and applied it to colouring. Looking at this photo of Holst House I wondered how to paint the white ironwork?

I decided to paint the intricate pattern of white lines with a black inkliner and then add the colours ‘in reverse’. It looked very strange! I used the Snapseed “curves” filter to make a colour negative. The white became black of course, but the blue sky became a caramel brown and the dark red bricks became pale blue.

Here’s how it looked in Snapseed:

And here’s what I painted: (without using much care or time)

Finally I photographed my “negative painting” and reversed it once again using Snapseed to produce a “positive”:

Three things happened:

  • Firstly, I’ve got the white lines I wanted. They’re so nice I wish I’d spent more time and done a more careful job of drawing them!
  • Secondly, there is a randomness about this process; because every colour is mixed and applied as an opposite (literally the colour opposite on the Colour Wheel), one really cannot accurately predict the outcome, and this leads to nice surprises;
  • Finally, we get the “Upside Down Drawing” effect: I discovered that I had painted (“painted”?) things with a new confidence and strength.

It’s my conclusion that I’ve achieved a strength of colouring here that I’ve never done before, by preventing my left brain from interfering with the process of seeing the actual colours and tone.

I can’t wait to print this out and frame it. I think I will write over the white writing using black pen because the white writing just makes it look as if I used a white pen!

anyway, I will definitely be doing a lot more painting using this method.

As a footnote, here’s a #Prisma filter: 55% Gothic:

Days before The Exhibition opens, I have mounted the print floating in a deep frame. It looks cool and quirky:

If you’re curious and tenacious enough to pull the frame off the wall, you discover it’s floating above a print of the negative that I actually painted:

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