I’m writing this sitting in Frankfurt airport as I travel home from my 7-day Croatia workshop. Teaching this workshop got me thinking a lot about negative space – both its power as a visual device and as a tool to aid in the creation of a painting. My demo and lesson on the last day touched on the use of negative space.
Here’s my demo:
When we look at the world, we see it in three dimensions, and we rarely see the space around objects. When we prepare to draw or paint a subject, however, if we are intentional in our looking, we can then see the negative space by which I mean the space in and around objects. In making our marks on a two dimensional surface, the negative space becomes just as important as the positive shapes. Understanding negative space will help you render a subject as well as give your work more impact.
Using negative space to help render your subject
If you’re having difficulty seeing a subject and recording it’s dimensions on paper, examine and draw the space and shapes around it. And when it comes to painting, don’t feel obliged to put down the subject in its perfect and final form from the start. Instead, create shapes that are amorphous. You can then paint the negative space and so doing, ‘carve’ out the subjects as clearly or as vaguely as desired.
Using negative space to make your work more powerful
In carving out the positive shapes, you create hard and soft edges. The balance between these edges help attract and lead the eye. As a visual artist, you cover your surface with a variety of shapes whether positive shapes or negative space. All become important parts of the painting puzzle. They’re abstract shapes that come together to create a visual representation
in a way the speaks of your artistic intention.
Let me take you through another painting I did a couple of days after the demo. (I’m sorry there are so few progress photos – I got immersed in painting and forgot to record more steps!)
Can you see why I’m somewhat obsessed with negative space? I love using this method to create an image!
Do you use negative space as an important part of your painting process and the painting itself? Whether you do or don’t, I’d love to hear from you so please leave comment!
Until next time (when we have a guest blogger who is an artist of roomscapes…!),
PS. If you wished you could have been on the Croatia workshop, know that I have another painting holiday coming up on the Costa Brava, Spain in early May 2018. Click here for more info.