Positive and Negative Space

Positive and Negative Space

Positive space in art is considered the subject matter in which you are drawing whether it be still life, portrait or landscape. The negative space is the space around and in between the subject matter. whilst researching positive and negative space and how the two compliment each other I came across a few artists who used negative space to tell a narrative or even help enhance the subject matter.

Figure 1: Gary Hume – Water Painting 1999, household paint on aluminium panel. 30.5 x 24.4cm

The first artist I looked at was Gary Hume. This picture really stood out to me with regards to the negative space as the subject matters are only a thin white painted line drawing. I think the composition of the different areas of the women overlapping create a confusing yet beautiful story. The white paint in greatly contrasted with the green background that is shown throughout the whole painting.

When reading about this work I came across this statement:¬†‘Varying hairstyles are the only indication of difference between women whose stylised bodies seem identical, the representation of an idealised form.’ – Elizabeth Mancheter, 2002

I disagree with this as I am struggling to see the hair styles. I believe it is the facial expressions separating the women, however I agree with the idealism that all the bodies seem identical which can either represent that he sees all women for the female creation that they are and all women are the same, or that society implies that there is only one way to look and forces women to look the same, meaning women disort themselves or change themselves like a reflection in water hence the ‘water painting’.

Figure 2: Cristina Troufa 2012 – ‘Regresso’ 150 x 100cm

Cristina Troufa is a Portuguese artists who is most famous for her self portraits. ¬†Regresso; which is the name the above artwork, in Portuguese means return. Troufa’s signature style of of only painting part of herself (mostly flesh) is not lost in this painting. She often leaves her clothing the same colour as the background which in itself is implying that she is fading into nothing. in this instance she has decided to leave the dress the same colour as the hole with ladder in it. This implies that she is ‘returning’ to the colourless background or hole that she may have once climbed out of. Troufa’s use of blues I find very appealing in her narrative of how she is feeling in this painting. Blue is normally considered, cold or could even represent a ‘blue’ period in her life which could be depression. She cleverly leaves the blue pale so that the viewer can still understand her emotions but can also reflect their own into the art work and connect on a personal level as we have all felt ‘blue’ at some point or another. I think this is a great use of negative space that brings this artwork alive and hope to be able to insert this into my work as I go forward.

Figure 3: Jeff Gabel – British Father at a 3-yr-old’s birthday party where everyone is drinking socially, 2003

As I was looking at my ‘Drawing Now: Between the lines of Contemporary Art’ book I cam across the above drawing. Gabel had written the title of the artwork at the bottom of the paper in pencil. I found this a rather funny and genius use of negative space. The father’s head and bottle is floating and off to the side of the paper which gives you plenty of room to imagine the scene described.

When looking at the father’s expression you can literally draw in the rest of the scene yourself. The parents a little red faced and laughing whilst they ignore their overactive, sugar-hyped children running around uncontrollably and this father sat amongst it all looking directly at the viewer with an almost silent plea. I find this interesting how Gabel was able to understand that he didn’t need to do anything to the negative space. A clever way of trying to make his artwork interactive. I hope to be able to know and understand when best to leave negative space in my own work so that it does not override my subject mater.

I hope like all the artists above to find the perfect balance between the positive and negative spacing in order to improve my drawing as I continue through this next assignment.

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