Painting lace is the perfect way to practice Negative Space Painting. This is not a quick process, so one that you can enjoy completing over the Christmas holiday. 

If you have a lace patterned tablecloth, handkerchief, a shawl or any other material with a lace pattern on it, lay it on a coloured surface. I used a burnt sienna coloured table. You will need to make a detailed drawing of the lace pattern. Take your time!

If it is a circular pattern, use a plate so you get the placing of the shapes/points that make up that circle correct, use any template you may need to draw in further shapes, e.g. small circles, the top of a paint tube. The lace in my painting is a Maltese tablecloth.  

If you are tempted to use of a paper doily and mask out the “holes” of the lace don’t! I would strongly recommend not to employ this method. Any material has the quality of tension, weight etc and no paper substitute will give you the effects of using a material, lace or otherwise.  

When you have completed your drawing you are going to paint in the “holes” or gaps in the lace pattern. You are painting in the background, not the foreground.  

Work light to dark. As an example, I used a burnt sienna and as I worked I added small quantities of burnt umber to darken the colour. Blue is a good colour for lace backgrounds, as you can then use very weak washes of the blue for some of the shadow or tension, or movement of the lace/cloth. To give you a guide on the time you may take to complete this exercise, I spent one hour drawing and then a further four hours painting. 

You will have to check your progress regularly throughout this process, so keep putting the work on the easel and assessing the colour. You will clearly see when you have reached 3D effect, which is what should happen when you use Negative Space Painting.  For the edge where the lace meets the surface: make this the darkest tone of your mix so you show there is space between the surface and the cloth.

There is always a certain fascination of any subject matter in art and the fascination of this one is an intricate pattern of lines and curved shapes.