Melaleucas and negative spaces

No surprises to know that there is another series of melaleucas. I created these with soluble graphite and ink. I have shown you how to draw with soluble graphite, when I was drawing oyster shells.

This time I wanted the drama of the black and white, with the details being added in with ink.

Part of the enjoyment in creating these was using the negative spaces between the branches. Negative space is the shape created between images in the art work and are an important compositional tool. Thinking about how two objects relate to each other on the page is thinking about negative space, the space between them.

In these drawings the background was the important beginning. The shapes of the trunk, branches and canopy were created out of the background. In essence the lines that I drew to create them were really the line on the background rather than the object (the trunk, branch etc.). I incorporated that line into the scribble of the background and smoothed it out when I added the water. They were quite stark, black and white drawings before I added in the ink details.

Seeing negative spaces also helps to reduce the complexity of an object. If you look closely at the underside of the melaleuca canopies you can see how I have inked in the darker areas between the little branches. Because I have observed these canopies and because I understand tone I know what spaces to create to make the branches come forward. Sometimes too there is just the hint of a branch, built up by the negative spaces.

Another advantage of drawing the negative spaces is that it quietens your brain. We have all had the experience of drawing something only to have our inner critic, the left side of our brain, say “That doesn’t look like an eye/elephant/apple [add in your own object].” That’s the point when many people give up drawing, believing that they can’t do it. Their dominant, rational, left side of the brain has taken over.

Negative spaces are abstract shapes, shapes that the left side of the brain doesn’t recognise as anything in particular. Drawing abstracts quietens the left down and allows the right, creative side to come to play. Instead of drawing an elephant trunk draw the abstract shapes around the trunk, mouth and tusk. It may not be perfect, but you have given yourself time to work out if you are enjoying what you are doing.

Happy drawing!

[These drawings are all available in my Etsy shop. Three or four of them would make a stunning series. Click here to go to see them in the shop and find out more details. Would like some but don’t want to go through Etsy? Contact me in the comments or at

annebags@optusnet.com.au

We can work it out!]

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About anne54

Botanic artist
This entry was posted in My art work and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Melaleucas and negative spaces

  1. katechiconi says:

    My tutor in Life Drawing classes always told us “draw what *isn’t* there”, which is basically what you’re doing – creating an image out of negative space. It’s a lovely series; I’d love to see it large and in real life, because I can’t help feeling we lose such a lot in photos: texture, light and the pencil marks.

    Like

    • anne54 says:

      You are so right about photos and real life. I love the chance to look at the real thing, to peer closely and see the brush strokes or stand back and be amazed by the scale. You can’t get that from photos and prints.
      “Draw want isn’t there” is a great way to describe the concept!

      Like

  2. EllaDee says:

    I love the way the space pushes the tree forward… “go on… get out there!” 🙂

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  3. Kit Dunsmore says:

    I love it when the negative spaces help me get the drawing right. They can be a great way to trick my brain so it stops thinking it knows what’s going on. So many drawings get messed up by my know-it-all brain!

    Like

  4. Pingback: How does drawing teapots become drawing spirals? | Anne Lawson

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