Negative Space

The ability to see negative space ie the space around an object is an essential skill for an artist. At first it’s quite a challenge to see it because we are so trained to see the object and all the space around an object just becomes the other, less important stuff.   But it’s this ‘other stuff’ that turns our object into a composition.

This image is an exercise to illustrate the idea of negative space painting.  The first stage is to colour the entire image with a light value leaving the 2 main trees as white paper.  When this is dry I used a second wash of the a very similar value and colour to the first wash and painted around various shapes to reveal a second level of trees.  I carried on through 4 washes, each one a little stronger in value than the previous one,  to get a pleasing arrangement of trees.  After the painting was finished and dry I decided to add 2 broad diagonal washes across the entire surface to create a sense of light penetrating the forest.

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