Day #049 – Negative Space Drawings

Finally got around to doing the next exercise from Drawing on the Right Side of the BrainNegative Space Drawings!

The exercise was as follows. Prepare a composition using your viewfinder and then, when you’re happy with it, use a felt-tip to mark out an area of negative space that can serve as a ‘basic unit’ for the rest of the drawing. Like so:

A piece of negative space from a chair, drawn onto my viewfinder to be used as a basic unit in a scaled up drawing of the whole



Next, take a piece of paper and mark out a rectangle that keeps the same proportions as the viewfinder but make it larger. Give it a matching cross-hair to that on the viewfinder above.

Now copy the mark you traced on the viewfinder onto your paper but so it remains in proportion. The cross-hairs will help you with this. Once that is done continue to copy the actual chair but focusing on the negative spaces around the chair rather than the chair itself. Use this first ‘basic unit’ to relate all the other shapes accurately. At the end your scaled up image should match what you initially composed in the view-finder and will likely be more accurate than if you’d tried to copy the chair in its detail because focusing on the negative shapes helps to turn off the “left-brain” which wants to label everything.

Well at least that’s the theory. Here’s my final chair as a negative space drawing. Pretty poor outcome as it happens:

Negative Space Drawing of a Chair


At the end of the chapter the author, Betty Edwards, suggests drawing Peter Paul Ruben’s Studies of Arms and Legs as a negative space drawing. Specifically she says to draw it upside down and to focus on the negative spaces. Then turn it the right way up and only then add in the details. In this way you can shut off the pestering “L-Mode” of the brain that wants to draw things as it thinks they should look rather than how they are. The foreshortening of the calf muscle on the runner, for instance. I think the advice in the book is very useful and I’m pretty pleased with how it came out:

Drawing of Peter Paul Ruben's Studies of Arms and Legs

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