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Art Lessons: Negative Space

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now, I'm gonna do a negative space
And what's so amazing about a negative
space drawing,
is that you're able to see shape in a very
abstract way because when you draw
nothing, it's really everything.
I know it sounds very like Lao Tzu-ish.
But really when you draw nothing, it is
So normally people just draw the object
that they see.
Rarely do they draw the empty spaces
around the object that they see.
And it's in the emptiness that all, that
shape takes place.
The emptiness is what forms the shape of
the object.
So we're gonna take a plant right now.
And I'm gonna look at the plant and
experience, experience to see the negative
What this does is, it enables you to make
a cognitive shift
from your linear left hemisphere into your
spatially timeless right hemisphere.
And when you can make that shift, You're
not labeling anything.
So when I draw around the leaf, I'm not
saying it's a leaf.
It's just a shape.
I'm not saying, you know there's an edge.
I'm just saying there's just an emptiness.
So because you can't label it.
You can't categorize it.
Your brain's able to kind of see it in a
really weird way a lot clearer.
So it's a great exercise for you to do
whether you're drawing your hand,
whether you're drawing a house plant,
whether you're drawing a landscape,
is to do a negative shape drawing.
And they could also be pretty beautiful as
I would encourage you to, to do this as
much as possible, and
by doing that, this will, this will allow
you to see the unseen.
So, kinda, starting at the top,
and remember, you could really start.
You don't have to start anywhere except
what interests you.
It's all relationships.
So, right here I'm going up with this
If can lean over.
From right here in the drawing.
So just to share that with you cuz it's
gonna be very hard.
To see where I am.
now I'm kinda
just drawing
around the plant.
And I'm able to really see some really
amazing negative shapes.
Not really, I'm not looking at.
Try not to just look at this as a stem.
I'm trying to feel this.
Has just the negative shape in here.
Like that.
So you start to see.
I'm starting to carve out, starting to
carve out,
these shapes.
I'm constantly just taking measurements,
constantly taking measurements.
And your eye,
your eye's
amazing, cuz your eye would actually fill
in the rest.
You know.
Your eye's gonna do all that work that you
thought, well, no I,
I need to explain that.
I need to explain that.
No, it's subtle.
You don't need to explain it.
It's there.
It's there.
Information is completely there.
I'm going back to right here.
Finding, the negative shape of that
right now, I'm just drawing the surface
area of that table.
Kinda, around it.
Probably not gonna, do the whole drawing.
I want to do enough to where you can
really just, just get the hang of it.
And so you can kinda, do this on your own
and just, really play with it.
And don't worry about it being a good
That's just not, that's not important.
It's the experience of the exercise that's
going to make you better.
Anybody could do this.
Anybody can learn how to see.
If these, these right here are some of the
greatest exercise, to allow you to see.
You just have to kinda, sit down and just,
get into it.
Okay, hold on.
So, you can see,.
Right, here would be the center point,
here would be the center point.
So, it's not like I'm, [SOUND] you know,
a crazy person and I'm just making shapes
I'm, you know, I'm not thinking about the
center of these objects.
I'm not thinking about the fact that, you
know, this is dissecting this leaf or.
And there's a, there's, there's a folding
I'm just thinking about, what is going on
in the negative spaces.
What is going on there,
because that, that to me,.
Is defining.
So, as you can see I'm, drawing primarily
with my left hand.
And, and that's because, my right, my
right hemisphere,
all the way that my right hand sees,
sometimes can be a little too literal and,
I don't wanna, I don't wanna draw
literally, right now.
I just.
Wanna, think about the emptiness, and the
hole in my heart,
sound dark, poetic .I just want to think
about the emptiness of of space.
And this is not, you know, this is a.
Not supremely, accurate but
it's, it's, it's an exercise.
Once again, it's,
it's not a It's not a means.
Of, like, this is gonna, be the best
drawing ever.
This is more like, I'm doing this to get
I'm doing this because I want my brain to,
to figure stuff out that.
That I know will make me a better artist
So, you kinda, get the gist of it.
There's no need to continue after this.
You can keep going on and keep going on,
and keep going on.
But you know, this is a really, really
valuable exercise to be able to see,
and to be able to experience something.
And I think, the more you do that, the
more you will immediately,
start to see shapes in an abstract way.
And remember, even, especially when you're
painting, that the negative
is just as important and just as
tantalizing as the positive spaces.
So, if you're painting a figure, if you're
painting a landscape,
think about all of the negative shapes.
Because if you don't know why, why your
figure doesn't look don't worry about it.
Just paint, paint what's behind it and
your figure will come to life.