Understanding Positive and Negative Space in Art

As you go further in your artistic journey, you will come across many methods, techniques, and terms. Among these are the concepts of positive and negative space. While they are relatively easy to understand, many beginner artists are unaware of these concepts. But understanding positive and negative space can strengthen your skills as an artist and is a valuable tool to have.

What is positive and negative space?Handmade watercolor drawing of touristic boat

Look at any painting and you will likely see a subject and a background. The subject is the key focus of a painting, while the background adds context and character. When it comes to positive and negative space, the subject is the positive space while the background is the negative space.

For example, if you have a picture of a partly cloudy sky, then the clouds would be the positive space while the peaks of blue sky in the background would be the negative space.

Why is positive and negative space important to understand?

Positive and negative space are simple concepts, but they can help transform your artwork. More specifically, they can help create a sense of balance and rhythm.

Balance refers to how artistic elements (such as lines, texture, colors, and forms) create visual stability in a painting. With positive and negative space, you can create a busy positive space that is balanced out with a quiet negative space, or vice versa.

Rhythm refers to the harmony between artistic elements, guiding the viewer around a piece rather than focusing on just one point. By using repetition and patterns in your positive and negative spaces, you can create a sense of rhythm in your painting.

Positive and negative spaces are just a few of the many concepts you will learn as a budding artist. To learn more concepts and techniques, consider one of our art classes or workshops at Creative Ventures Gallery today!