I hate dirt in my nail beds. It’s like the bane of my daily existence. I’m constantly cutting back my nails just to not have crud beneath them. What does that have to do with jewelry and art? Not much, except I was just in the shower thinking about how much I hate dirt under my nails, which led to me re-designing fingertips in my head.
My design would leave no negative space and, therefore, no place for grime to settle. I’m sure the original designer, God, had reasons for that negative space, he (or she, they, them or it) being THE ultimate creator. Nevertheless, if it were up to me, I would totally re-design fingertips.
But ... I digress. Back to the shower, that fountain for some of my best ideas. While thinking about the misfortune of nail gunk, it led to thinking about negative space in art. It’s pretty important. Be it in jewelry, painting, sculpture, dance or any other genre of artistic expression.
What is negative space? It’s simply what’s not there. Let me use some of my own work as illustration.
I designed and handmade these wall hangings and pendants, afro ladies I call them, from a single piece of wire each. The reason they work, the reason any type of outline works actually, is the negative space – the part that’s not there. The brain fills in the rest.
Consider this FedEx logo. Do you notice anything discernible in the white spaces?
You may have seen it 100 times and perhaps never noticed the arrow embedded in the name, arising in the white spaces due to the juxtaposition of the capital E and lowercase x. It’s pronounced in the logo, but you can even see it by just placing those letters together on your screen: Ex.
A famous exemplar of negative space is Rubin’s vase. What do you see other than the vase?
The artful use of negative space is often evident in company logos, such as the FedEx logo example above, and in other art depending on the magic that can be inherent in negative space. Sometimes the negative space itself becomes the point of a piece and where attention is meant to be focused.
So, when you create, don’t neglect your negative side. I promise it’s okay in these instances.