To me, you need almost as much space around the objects you draw in order to
give the composition or objects in the composition a more interesting
atmosphere that the viewer can see...this is why teaching the concept of
positive and negative is important...kids might understand better if it is
explained as the hand held object or subject is the positive shape...and the
open empty shape around the object is the negative shapes (use the word
shapes instead of space)...it also helps to cut view finders so they can
look through them and see where a composition would end...the view finder is
a open rectangle and should be directly related back to the picture plane or
page...I don't think that these concepts or rules are old or outdated...I
think they are standards to set your eye to...especially if you have an
under developed ability to see or organize a page or space...and I think
some rules are helpful...sometimes in order to help someone get started on
something, the rules and structure that were developed in the past really
help people to go forward...I learned about all this in both colleges I went
to for my b.f.a and m.f.a...I also remember going over it all in high
school...now with this in mind, I have my college classes do an assignment
where they draw a still-life of any interesting objects that I find in the
class room combined into a simple but interesting shape all together...they
do not draw the interior of the objects or where they overlap...but just the
negative shapes they see...and just the edges or specific contours...they
have to think of the entire surface of the page when drawing the
objects...so they have to draw larger...I talk to them about the fact that
there should be a equal balance or close to an equal balance between the
positive shapes and the negative shapes...then in the negative spaces they
have to determine a light source and use charcoal to shade the background
and show the light source...they all come out looking pretty cool...this is
the simpler assignment...there is a more complex assignment too...but, you
could adapt this to a younger audience...
From: Patricia Knott [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2003 2:47 PM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: Negative Space Experience
This is what is wrong with the standards and how we think art should be
"they " are not going to get it
and even if they get it for a lesson
"it' doesn't carry over"
I will never "get" certain rules of grammar, I will never "get" beyond
what what was drilled to me in basic math, .. and science - well if
somebody can tell me what the point is in memorizing the periodic table
Same is true in art.
We spend our time being frustrated over teaching elements and principles
that sometimes we ourselves don't understand.
And we expect kids to get "it." I didn't get "it" until I was in
Let's not get hung up on the "grammar." Let's get hung up on finding
ways that kids express and then
point out how the expression was significant
who cares about negative space?????
care about what they want to express and then coddle them into ways of
expressing it better.
I have spent an enormous amount of time investigating assessment in art.
The majority is product oriented. Art is going into directions that I am not
sure we are addressing.
And I don't find evidence of why the "grammar' of art is not retained.
Just like I resist in other disciplines I don't know why why we
expect kids to get what they resist about what we think is important to
teach in art.
Can we accept that and find another way?
I don't ever want to penalize a kid because the perception is different
from the standard I am being bound to.
Where did art expression come from? Certainly the cave painters didn't
have a teacher telling them about elements and principles and god
forbid if they had.
We have to look at some ways to do this differently.
P.S. Betty - this is not a criticism of you. We ALL have to look
I hate rules
I trust myself and I try to teach my students to trust even when
it's not my rule
Art history has been a series of progressing through disregarding and I
don't know why we hold onto to something that has outlived it's time and not
progress to the next expression.
What is negative space? a black hole?