Negative Space


Negative space, in drawing, is the space in-between objects.

We spent our third drawing class training our minds to observe the negative spaces in our subjects, drawing outlines of spaces our minds do not naturally recognize.

In my case, the subject was a stool:



In theory, negative space practice helps the artist give shape to an object by accurately capturing the angles surrounding it. It's a taxing exercise for beginners.

The importance of negative space drawing, however, is evident when looking at the work of masters:

"Three Skulls" - Paul Cezanne

Still Life - Giorgio Morandi

The contrast with the background itself is enough to draw attention to the 'positive' objects. 

Perhaps as an homage to Morandi, our instructor set up some simple objects for our last exercise of the day.

A simple arrangement of objects

We covered our papers with a dark dust of charcoal, wiping back and forth with paper towels to turn the whole sheet black. Once our sheets were sufficiently blackened, we were instructed to take an eraser and outline the negative space into the darkness:


We erased until only the objects remained, with the negative space "wiped out" to give way to an image. 

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