Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Rick Surowicz

Tom Schroeder introduced Rick Surowicz whose program was entitled “Effective Use of Negative Space in Transparent Watercolor.”  Through demonstration the concept of negative painting will be discussed.  What is negative space? How can we use it to improve our paintings? What roles do edge and value contrast play?

Rick's sample paintings for us to see:

Rick Surowicz can be seen on You Tube 2 Chanel, he gives tutorials. Rick recommended watching “Watercolor Addicts” on “Facebook” where you can see other artists using watercolor techniques.

Generally he uses a limited palette.  He uses good paper 140 lb. usually half sheets of watercolor paper. The paint brands he likes are Holbein, Daniel Smith, and Cheap Joes.

He paints at an angle of about 20 degrees as he likes to use the paint drips for direction.

He uses a spray bottle to push the paint around in chosen areas (bought at Dick Blick).

He kept two big water containers nearby, and used several brushes, one 1” round brush, he mentioned Silver Black brushes and a fine brush for details at the end of the painting. 

He did a light sketch on his paper and used the negative spaces and positive space to work out the push and pull of the of the shapes.  He put down an initial light wash, then built values to define shapes.

Then he built layers and uses tissues to mop up if areas become too saturated. He stressed that good value contrast makes a big difference.  He also talked about soft and hard edges for contrast.

Rick used a hair dryer often to keep the colors clean and emphasized the layers should be completely dry before painting over areas otherwise the colors would bleed into one another. Rick used his spray bottle for direction and keeping the colors from getting too heavy.

In the demo he started to pull out details with medium colors, working across the painting and keeping some areas plain white to bring areas forward and you start to see the darker areas push back.  

Then he used dark points of paint in a few areas to mark the negative areas for refining the shapes to push forward.  The larger washes at the end pull things together and he softens with tissues.
The completed demonstration painting
A very enjoyable and informative program.
Examples of Rick's floral paintings
Rick Surowicz now gives workshops and had two planned in the next few months.

Minutes by Carole McAfee
Photos by Deb Ward

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