Creatively, negative space is any space or shape that’s next to, but not, the thing you are drawing. Like yin and yang they have to exist together. One of my favourite examples is the word ‘skyline’. It exactly describes the negative shape when we look at a city scape. Instead of drawing the ‘building line’ focus on the sky and draw the skyline. That will make your life much easier 🙂
Oh and while I was playing with Gimp (a free version of photoshop) I did this cool thing 🙂
Over some years I’ve had the privilege of participating in workshops given by a wonderful artist and generous tutor (amongst other extraordinary talents), Tony Smibert. I took the following notes during one of his workshops. Having observed hundreds of drawers (including myself) at various levels of ability I am often reminded of this unusual analogy.
Pay equal attention to Awareness
Be aware of the whole space within which to draw. Sometimes we don’t see the edge of the paper and either draw too small or too big. It helps to put a frame on the page.
Eg. A tennis player has to be aware of the size of the court so that he doesn’t hit the ball out. So that he puts his service into the serving box
Pay attention to what else is in the composition. Where are the objects in relation to each other. How dark is the tone compared to other tones on the page. Many times we think a shadow on a particular item is very dark – in relation to the item – and do not see the tone in relation to the whole composition.
Eg. The tennis player has to pay attention to where his opponent is on the court and anticipate where he will move to so that he can decide where to place the ball.
Draw the particular line, item, tone focusing on how to do that.
Eg. The tennis player has to focus on the ball coming towards him and how to hit that ball for maximum benefit.
We often concentrate on how to do the best for one small part of our drawing i.e. focus, to the detriment of awareness and attention. This leads to a disjointed drawing where things don’t appear to belong together. It is so easy to move from one line to another, one item to another without being aware or paying attention to the whole picture.
The drawer has to keep all three mind-sets to produce a successful drawing as does the tennis player for a winning game.