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Negative Space in Art

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by

Ann Clare

on 13 November 2012

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Transcript of Negative Space in Art

NEGATIVE SPACE IN ART drawing what isn't there...
or is it? How many lines are shown in this image? ZOOMING OUT....Is it easier to acknowledge separate white and black lines in this image? Which is dominant? Now it is obvious that the dark space encloses a white form that we recognize as a comb. It is difficult to change our perception of space so that we start analyzing forms as abstract spaces and see the background shapes just as important as the foreground shapes. WHAT DO YOU SEE? How about glass houses? What exactly is negative space? Law of Pragnanz In German based Gestalt Psychology, the Law of Pragnanz or Figure/Ground is based on our ability to separate an object from its background. Immediately our left brain goes to work identifying the object in the foreground, but largely ignores the background. Positive space: the subject in the foreground that is the focus of the piece. (Normally perceived as dark on light.) Negative Space: all the space that surrounds the subject and makes up the background. (Usually thought of as the white background.) WHY use Negative Space? Remember how our left brains love naming things and giving them symbols? Our left brain streamlines and simplifies images for easy recognition and access, which is great for quick recall, but not so great for recalling perspective perfect images. In fact, it stinks. Most of us have no problem recognizing the white shapes as a table and chair, even though there are no details and the forms overlap and are combined. Right away, we recognize the shapes. They are familiar. However, now examine the black shapes... Our Left Brain does NOT recognize the black negative shapes! Since we've never really seen shapes that look like the black, negative shapes, our left brains search and search for recognition and find nothing. The shapes have no recognizable form when isolated or out of context. The left brain gives up and turns the problem over to the right brain to solve since the right brain deals primarily with analyzing shapes rather than matching symbols. What happened in our TED talk when Dr. Jill Bolte tried to call for help when experiencing an aneurism? HOW do artists use NEGATIVE SPACE? M.C. Escher Kara Walker Noma Bar Graphic Designers LOVE playing with Negative Space Ambiguous Space: This is space that could be interpreted as positive or negative space and likely shifts back and forth between both perspectives. The positive space of this image shifts back and forth between the continent of Africa and the profiles of the people that form the shores. This Norwegian Spirit logo shifts the positive space between the fern, water and mountain and the figure that is left in the crevices between them. Examples of Positive/Negative Space in Modern Graphic Design and Illustration: How do graphic illustrators use negative space? So... this isn't exactly negative space? So you will see an image in front of you like this... What kind of edges are you observing? First, we will draw the contours of the shapes only. By drawing contours around the negative space, you are defining the positive space. Remember, value shifts, color shifts and and texture shifts create edges as well as the physical ending of a form. Where is the positive space in this photograph?

Where is the negative space? Once your contours are drawn with the negative space in mind, differentiate your negative space. Usually, our minds read black as the positive space. By exploiting this expectation, we force our brain to notice the odd shaped, unfamiliar space first, confuse our left hemisphere and then exercise our expert shape recognizers on the right side. This effect is not as strong when the black and white are reversed. For an even more powerful effect, combine techniques of working upside down and drawing negative space. As you can see, the toucan image is becoming fairly abstract at this point. So we're sure this isn't negative space?
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