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Negative Spaces - and I don't mean places that bring you down !!

So I thought I would talk a bit about ‘negative’ spaces today. I use this technique whether I am designing and sculpting a design on the body or if I am drawing. I can only explain it as the spaces in and around the main event !!


Let me show you what I mean on my current fabric portrait painting…so whilst I map out I am not only looking at the spaces the face fills but also looking closely at the area or shape that I need to create which sits around the face ( the background ) If you get these shapes right that will help you continue to the main event.

I've drawn over this photo in red to try and show you the 'negative spaces' I am discussing. The dark background I have created using strips or cut out pieces of the same fabric which I have glued down onto the canvas with basic PVA glue. This was my starting point to try and sculpt the correct shape that you can see from the left straight side of the canvas to where it hits the hair line ,side of face and shoulders. The same with the right side. Always consciously looking at the subject matter to navigate if the lines/spaces you are creating mimic what you see. So from this photo I can spot that the right shoulder is too high at the moment and also probably the left, and you may say well that's ok but when I start to map out the jawline I will be using the shoulder to cross reference where to piece together the negative spaces from the jawline to the start of the collar, the space from the jawline then to where the mouth starts so you see its like one big jigsaw puzzle that needs to fit. I'll talk more about the process of applying the base colours ( fabrics) to map out basic areas like the eyebrows, the eyes, nose and mouth, but I have to get the other spaces perfect first to know they will fit inside the space. Just before I sign off today I will say I chose this picture to recreate as there is some disparity, mainly around the eyebrows and the way the mouth is positioned. My conscious mind is already questioning what I can see because if you look at the ladies eyebrows, the left is much lower and thinner than the right one and her mouth is pursed a little and its unclear if she is happy or sad or whatever....I want to work with this to get to some dynamic tension. You can see this in Da Vinci's Mona Lisa , the imbalance of the horizon and something about her mouth...anyway that's enough for now, why don't you try this with paper tissue or fabric or paint on a piece of clean cardboard, p.s the glue gets everywhere - you have been warned !! x

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