Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Negative space

Negative space in art is the space around the object in focus.  I first heard the phrase in a high school art class, when we were trying to draw chairs.  Our teacher told us to look not just at the chairs themselves, but at the shapes of the spaces between, and to draw those shapes.  Amazing, it worked...I use this trick all the time when drawing.  Lately I've been thinking this is perhaps the most important part of designing a piece of art, and I like to play with it.  Sometimes I spend more time on the background than on the object.  The spaces between and around your subject are what create interest.  In the drawing here, what you see are the trees...but what I drew was the spaces around the trees.  

As time has gone on, this idea of negative space has matured for me to extend beyond the art application.  We see stars because of the dark sky they sit in.  In music, it's the flow and variations in the spaces between the notes that make the notes shine.  In words, sometimes it's what's NOT said that should be listened to the closest.  In people, often it's the things you don't know that are intriguing.  In relationships, it's the context around the moment which give the moment shape and meaning.

Background, mystery, silence, intrigue, context, flow.


Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

I heard a pottery student talking about negative space existing withinn the curve of a handle on a mug---ie, making the negative space a pleasing shape. Hadn't thought of it that way!

b said...

Oh Christi, this is so well-put, thank you for such lovely words. And for the space in between. Blythe