Burning Question for the Artist / by Jennifer Davey

Jennifer Davey, Illuminate, 2008, oil and oil bar on panel, 12 x 16 in.  Private collection

Jennifer Davey, Illuminate, 2008, oil and oil bar on panel, 12 x 16 in.  Private collection

What is the essence of negative space?  This is a critical question in understanding visual language.  In the 3D world we walk in, I see negative space as an invisible blanket that touches and surrounds everything we perceive as physical, solid objects.  Translated into a 2D picture plane, negative space becomes the space around objects represented on the canvas or piece of paper.  Its easy to think of negative space as odd shape puzzle pieces that surround a physical object, for example a portrait of a person or a building.  The essence of negative space is its silent presence in everything.  It is often over-looked, yet is fundamental both in creating our physical world and the worlds created in artwork.  It is something that creates space, a place for forms to exist.   Understanding the negative space in pictures/paintings is fundamental to creating strong composition.  In this painting, I think of the white flower like form and the red circles as positive space and the black background as negative space.