Carving the Void: Negative Shapes

May 12, 2011 in Figurative by joanvienot

The model who posed for our figure drawing session at Studio b. last week returned this week.  For the past four months, we’ve had a different model nearly every session.  That has added to the challenge in that every week we have to become familiar with a different body type or different proportions.  Having the same model two weeks in a row was a luxury.

Our instructor, Heather Clements, provided a focus for us, suggesting that we run the drawing off the page, effectively cropping it in order to create negative shapes out of the negative space.  Often in the rush of trying to get the figure drawn as quickly as possible before the timed pose ends, the background, if treated at all, is merely an afterthought.  By drawing the figure so that parts of it intersect with the edge of the page, it no longer floats on the page, but instead becomes anchored.  The negative space, the space surrounding the figure, is then broken up so that it becomes negative shapes instead of just open space.  Negative shapes help the piece to read as a composition.  Art imitating life, carving the larger voids into smaller pieces makes it more manageable.

A good mat and frame can help with cropping, but it is better for the artist to have made those decisions instead of leaving it up to the framer.

The sketches included here are from this week’s session.

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot