Negative Space is a term used in art to describe the space around or between an object or multiple objects. You can think of the object itself as the "positive" form that you can typically touch (like a houseplant). The "negative space" is all of the space around the object that you cannot touch (like the spaces around and between the leaves).
|Spring Renewal -early painting stage, artist Lisa Larrabee|
|Spring Renewal, oil on panel, artist Lisa Larrabee|
- Choose a subject that has interesting negative shapes. Look for examples with closed shapes (negative space surrounded by positive form).
- Organic shapes (like plants) are more forgiving. Structured inorganic shapes (like a pair of scissors or a chair) will help you more easily identify mistakes.
- Do NOT sketch in guidelines of your subject. Try to hold the positive form in your mind, but do not draw it.
- Draw the outline of a negative shape. "Jump over" the positive form to the next negative shape. I like to begin with a closed shape (like the examples in orange).
Painting Negative Space: Part I
Painting Negative Space: Part II
Painting Negative Space: Part III