Negative Space in Art- from guest blogger Megan Harper

Negative Space in Art- from guest blogger Megan Harper

Hello and welcome back to another Smiling Hippo Blog! Can you believe it’s the end of June? Man oh man this summer has been flying by, and I’m so glad to see you here again! My name is Megan, and this week I’m going to share a fun way to bring new dimension to your watercolor art by using negative space left from washi tape! Plus for the Kids Corner, we’re going to talk about using sponge stamps.

Now, you might be thinking, “Negative space? I haven’t heard that since I was in school!” Don’t fret! It’s not a hugely complicated tool in art, but it can help you create some great effects.
    Every art piece has two kinds of space; positive and negative. Positive space is what the image is made of, in this case, the stalactites and foreground crystals. Negative space is what is surrounding the subject matter– like the background, in my painting the negative space is the white lines I created using washi tape to prevent the watercolor from escaping! You may remember from my previous blogs I use blue painters tape to keep crisp edges on my paintings. Another option is Washi Tape, it’s much thinner and great for fine lines within a piece, pictured below.

For the background I used a lovely cocoa brown color that builds up very well. This helped me create depth in the “cave”. 

For the crystals I couldn’t help but use the Hidden Gems collection! When the second half of the collection arrives I will write a full review of the release! (Spoilers, it’s my favorite from the Smiling Hippo so far) Without covering too much of future writings, the sheen these colorways hold is incredible, the pigment is amazing and the metallics are almost a buttery texture, so, a little goes a LONG way!

I forgot to take a photo of the next part, but I felt the piece needed a few more crystals. I used more Washi Tape to outline smaller foreground gems to create layers. I went ahead and painted over what was already in the blocked out area which ended up being a great idea! Remember, trust the process– it may not look like what you had in mind, but you can create something better than you imagined!
I love how the smaller crystals in the front have a small amount of the underpaint showing through almost as if they’re translucent like real crystals and gems.

    Another way to make a 3D crystal is to use different shades on different faces. A lighter at the top, maybe a darker one on one side– this is a technique I’m going to explore further and I encourage you to do the same! Push yourself, stretch your creative muscles and don’t be afraid to experiment!

This painting is one of my favorites, the tape made a great border between the crystals and the cave. And of course the liner helped separate the small ones from the background! The shimmer, shine and gleam of these paints is nothing short of amazing!


This week my little artist and I made a simple landscape and used animal shaped sponges as stamps. My Little wasn’t too keen on the stamping so I did some of it for her– oh the minds of the young! She was more entertained this week by pre-soaking the paints in the water cup. Which is a pretty good idea if you’re using stamps.

This is where she decided she was done– but I’ll show you what the plan was originally! These little foam critters are the kind that come in the dissolvable capsules. Once they’re opened you can paint them and use them as a stamp

 One thing to keep in mind with little ones is they may not want to finish the entire project and that’s totally fine! This time is about them exploring their creativity and imagination. No matter what you may want them to sit and do, you have to let their minds wander. This week felt like a failure on the Kids Corner side because she didn’t want to follow my plan, but instead she helped me practice patience and let her be a silly little girl. As I have mentioned before, these creative times are wonderful, special and the art they make will be a memory you can hold forever.
I am going to make an art book for her with all these projects that she can look back on when she’s older. It’ll be a sweet keepsake.

That’s all for this week! Be sure to check out The Smiling Hippo shop, the other blogs and Brand Reps! They all have some amazing art and tips to share! :)

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