Traditional Art Week
From the time a budding artist drags their first waxy crayola across a piece of construction paper the artist is bombarded with one question. "What is it?" Artists have many ways, media, tools, and tricks in their toolbox to help them convey the story being told in their artwork.
The human eyes and brain look for the subject of the art: the person, place, or thing that makes it important. Brains make sense of the art we see by dividing the work into negative and positive space. In a traditional pencil drawing dark lines are used to create the "What is it" also known as positive space and the white background becomes the negative space.
A small amount of attention paid to where and how negative space is used can have a huge impact! All the examples used are works by the members of the Deviant Art community.
When the dark and the light are reversed, the negative and positive switch, creating a silhouette-like effect. Creating the subject with the colors of the background reverses the negative and positive space.
When the boundaries of positive and negative space are pushed, the center of focus switches back and forth between positive and negative. This is how optical illusions are created.
Negative space is used by artists in different ways. The empty space in a work of art gives the eye of the viewer a place to relax. Vast empty space around the subject draws attention away from the subject and is often used to evoke the feeling of loneliness or sadness.
An absence of negative space does the opposite. With no initially clear subject the viewer's eye bounces around a negative space filled with other images and colors. This can be used to create a feeling of movement, happiness, or even dreaminess by drawing the viewer's eye away from the subject to everything happening around and then back again.
Positioning the subject of a painting to look into negative space helps create the illusion of looking into the distance.
Using negative space is like making use of any brush, pencil, pen, chisel or tool in your artbox. While there is no one right way or wrong way to make use of negative space, understanding how to use it to help you define your own "What is it?" will help make you the best artist and deviant possible!