Monday, May 19, 2014

"Using Negative Space to Improve Your Composition" by Sharon Weaver

"Using Negative Space to Improve Your Composition"

Teaching has helped me to see common mistakes that many new artists make. One is looking at and focusing entirely on the objects or things you are painting. This isn't wrong but by only focusing on the object it can often look like it is floating in space or unattached. There isn't a connection to anything around it. 

To counter this outcome, I approach a still life by looking at the negative space. Seeing the space around the objects and making that area interesting can anchor the subject and make the composition much more unusual. This concept of concentrating on negative space can be used when painting any genre including my favorite, landscapes.

Whenever I am painting trees, I consider the space between and around the trees. The shapes that are formed by the sky are an intricate part of the painting so they need to be designed. Carving the sky out from around the trees and placing the sky holes are some of the biggest choices you have to make when trees dominate a landscape. For me, I really enjoy this part of the decision making. 

See the space between and around trees to place objects
 The sky holes as the negative space
Another good example of using negative space to improve your composition is thinking of the space around a shadow, not the shadow; the space around a cloud, not the cloud or the space around a building, not the building.

Now you can see in this painting where the negative space is...

You get the idea. This method of thinking outside the box is important to consider no matter what the subject you are painting. Making the negative shapes interesting, varied and pretty will improve your work regardless of subject.

Sharon teaches Outdoor Landscape Painting on Fridays, 10am-1pm. Take a mini vacation with her and learn more art tips and tricks to develop your skills! 

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