Thursday, May 26, 2011

Some thoughts on drawing and negative space

I have always loved mark-making that is concise, when the artist is able to articulate the idea of an object with minimal noodling. To me this type of drawing is like a well-executed magician’s trick, a bit of sleight of hand – from far away the object resolves but up close you can pick apart the two or three well placed lines used to make the trick convincing.

I think the key to simplicity is being able to draw with the negative space, always keeping in mind what each line says about the space around it.

When I was in high school I struggled through some Lao Tzu and although I can't claim to have understood a lot of what he wrote there was one passage that I still think about all the time when I'm drawing because to me it's all about the usefulness of negative space:

Thirty spokes joined at one hub;
emptiness makes the cart useful.
Clay cast into a pot;
the emptiness inside makes it useful.
Doors and windows cut to make a room;
emptiness make the room useful.
Thus being is beneficial
but usefulness comes from the void.

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