Research: positive and negative space

I was interested to look at this as I’m not very skilful when it comes to using the negative space around objects, as I still tend to go for the outline of the thing I’m drawing. The course text suggested looking at Gary Hume for inspiration, and I also found a couple of good ones in drawing now: eight propostions, which is on the reading list and absolutely excellent. I like these two:


The top one Five Nocturnes by Russell Crotty (p24-5) is masses – millions! – of fine lines in pen, with the sky marks orientated horizontally, the terrestrial ones vertically, and from what I can see by squinting (and resisting the urge to double tap the page to zoom in…) the lines are the same thickness, just more densely packed in the dark area. I really like the simplicity of this picture and the naive quality of the shapes . The bottom drawing, EINUZWANZIGSTERSEPTEMBERZWEITAUSDENDUNDEINS by Ugo Rondinone (p28) is ink on paper and is a series of splodges and dots of varying tones and densities to give the stunning and quite haunting effect of trees – in moonlight perhaps? I am always impressed by art where there are no lines; it must take self control and a lot of stepping back and perusing to inch in to where you want your boundaries to cross. And patience; I don’t profess to have much of any of those skills.

Another artist I like who uses a lot of negative space in his paintings is wildlife watercolourist Darren Woodhead. The birds appear out of the shapes in the paint:

Positive and negative space are really brought home with printing, and these are two artists I like:

David Wightman uses wallpaper and acrylic for his landscape paintings, and his prints are a great demonstration of negative space not needing to be white:

I also like this one from an artist called Joss Fenn. Working with the negative space is something I tried with some paintings I have done:

I really enjoyed doing these and like how the brain fills in the blank. With my still lifes I’m going to see if I can incorporate an element of this as I think it makes the eye work harder.




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