Positive and negative spaces

Patrick Cauldield – still life





A compostiton contains various elements – the main Images  within the compostiton are known as positive spaces and the spaces within the surrounding area are known as negative spaces. The negative spaces is often empty of an image but does serve to provide a link to the main focus of the composition – it often compliments the positive spaces to create a sense of completeness. Essentially a compostiton needs both spaces to balance out the picture.

modern contemporary artists often will use the negative space to draw attention to the to the compositional elements of their work. Patrick Caulfield uses both negative and positive spaces as equally important in his work he uses his composition to hi light both spaces. The effect is a flattened perspective with large flat plains of colour. The tone is made up of flat areas of colour rather that shadows and shading. This almost produces a graphic quality to the painting as the colour is applied in blocks.

The graphic artist M.C Esther uses his skills as a draughtman to produce mathematically inspired prints combining both intricate areas of positive and negative space – the effect is of an optical illusion.

Nineteenth centry French artist Henri Toulouse- Lautrec produce lithographs of the popular Parisian night life. These prints are made up of    A simple flattened form with the negative spaces around the image seeming to be integral to the compostiton – serving as a device to frame the focal point of the art work.

in reflection the use of both positive and negative space within a still life compostiton draws the subject matter together helping to enhance and improve  how the objects either man made or natural look together









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