Still Life and Negative Space
“Still Life and Negative Space Exercise”

More drawing from life today. This time with a bit of a twist: First of all I gave the students a crash course in the art of drawing from life, using a pencil held at arm’s length to measure relative dimensions and angles. Once inducted into this mysterious art of  ”looking like a proper artist”, we turned them loose on that old standby of art colleges down through the ages: the pile of boxes.

Little Boxes Made of Ticky-Tack

Ah, this takes me back a bit. I first cut my own HE student teeth on a pile of cardboard boxes on my first day at art college, way back in the black & white days.

Negative Space

After wrestling with the planes and angles of the pile of boxes, the next challenge was the dreaded ‘Negative Space’. For the uninitiated this involves drawing a still life arrangement –with a twist. Instead of drawing the objects themselves, you draw everything but the objects, ie. the negative space around them. It’s a lot more challenging than you might think. Forcing yourself to draw something while studiously avoiding looking at it makes you feel like someone is putting your brain through a potato masher, but it’s a great way to improve your drawing skills. Often it’s easier to define the form of an object you are struggling to draw by concentrating on the shapes it creates against the background behind it.

Our negative space exercise was a step ladder and a college issue plastic chair. Here is what I achieved before my brains oozed out of my ears and forced me to retire hurt to the pavilion.

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