In art, negative space is the name given to the area around and between a subject. Conversely , positive space is the subject itself. Negative space and positive space meet at the edges. Together, the negative and positive define the image – give it shape.
I recently read Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. The title character is largely created through the stories of others: little vignettes of other people’s lives that are pasted, like a collage, and create or flesh out the character of Olive by sitting beside her – being, if you like, the negative space that firms up her edges.
So I am reminded, in my painting and drawing, to ‘tell the around’ as much as depict an object itself. The ‘around’ is the other side of the coin, the balancing factor, the limit. Its story is the other half of the whole. What isn’t is just as important as what is.