The shape of space

"All paintings start out of a mood, out of a relationship with things or people, out of a complete visual impression. To call this expression abstract seems to me often to confuse the issue. Abstract means literally to draw from or separate. In this sense every artist is abstract...a realistic or non-objective approach makes no difference. The result is what counts."  Richard Diebenkorn

A LESSON IN -- Space

In class we linked two very important elements of drawing together, negative space and tone. Negative space is the area around and in between objects.Think of a table top with objects on it as a piece of 'still life' theatre, the objects are performers on stage, each with a part to play. To record this drama successfully, we learn that the area surrounding our performers effect their relationship. Using a viewfinder helps considerably in our attempt to see the space around objects, allowing its "shape" to become visible. Looking at the interaction between positive (objects) and negative shapes produces a more dynamic composition. 

Using a simple still life under a direct light source, my student's considered the shape and proportions of negative and positive shapes, developing 4 compositions playing with the idea of mostly, some and a bit. After a group critique, student's had 30 minutes to complete their final drawing.

Using a gestural mark to create tone and no outline, student's built their images using blocks of energized tone to describe the object/context as an integrated experience. 

4 compositional drawings (right) and final drawing from same artist (left)

WEEK 2 -- Space
The following week we continued our discussion on the relationship between negative and positive shape. Check out the results below! Artist's in order of appearance: Sandy Raymond, Noel Hawke, Ron Jore and Carol Welch


Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) We looked at the work of Richard Diebenkorn and discussed the importance of considering negative space when composing. It is exciting to see how he uses shape relationships and directional mark-making to lead the eye around the page. Are you more interested in how these objects are placed on the table than the objects themselves? I love how Diebenkorn plays with this idea, creating situations where a positive shape can be seen as a negative shape, such as the cover of the book the glasses rest upon.