On my website, I have a demo page and about a dozen archived demos from
Wetcanvas.com. As a plein air painter, use of negative space has become
routine and essential in short order to capture trees and the suggestion of
If you click on a few of my outdoor plein air demo's....you'll see steps
presented where I demonstrate the use and importance of negative space in
suggesting trees. I take masses behind trees, or the pigment color of sky
to shape and add character to tree's edges, poking inbetween and so forth.
As I explain it to my students....you can either study and become the expert
of every tree in your regions. In mine there are Jack pines, white pines,
red pines, various firs, maples, birches, elms and oaks and so on ad
infinitum. I even have a book by Da Vinci on the Anatomy of trees and will
hold it up. For fun, I'll read his mathematical equations and observations
from the trunk on up...
Then...I explain that artists develop eyes that see artistically and
aesthetically. We recognize shapes, mass, color, texture, line, form, and
space. As artists grow, we learn to trust our artistic understanding versus
our logical scientific reasoning. Its a matter of letting the right brain
Thus...by squinting the eyes....I first see the mass or shape of the crown
of the tree. I block that mass in. Then...using "negative space"...I
sculpt the mass to take on the character of that tree.
In a demo...I then appeal to the kids...do you want to spend the next decade
of your life becoming an expert on the anatomy of trees, or would you think
recognizing shape and using negative space to be preferred?
I would invite you to check out my demo's and make particular note to the
kids where I use negative space and see if that doesn't help. Have a fun
day in the computer lab!
btw...I have a son in college studying landscaping and horticulture, as he
wants to run supevision professionally of golf courses. He has a book that
is large and about 4" thick on trees and plants and is having to learn the
anatomy literally. Leaves, stems, color and size, fruit, height/width of
tree, trunks, and then there are the flowers!!! Holy smokes!!!