Negative Spaces – SAA ‘Paint’ magazine

I recently joined ‘The Society for all Artists’ (SAA) and as part of the membership I receive a copy of Paint magazine.  In the recent magazine is a tutorial by Trevor Waugh on using negative space in still life.  This interested me as I have been looking at still life in my research and for the assignment work I have been doing.

In the article are some useful pieces of advice that I will try in my own work:

  • Take you time setting up your still life and consider the negative spaces as well as the objects.  In assignment one I did take my time setting up the objects and I tried various arrangements but I can’t say I took that much notice of the negative spaces at the early stage.  In my next arrangement I will focus more on these.
  • The shapes you leave out are usually the ones that speak.  Waugh is writing about watercolour in particular but I think this also applies to many media.  When I look back with fresh eyes at my assignment piece I do see the negative spaces and they do help connect the objects but many of them in mine are in deep shadow.
  • The shadows connect all the objects.
  • Negative spaces help throw objects forwards
  • Your work is personal to you – make every mark with care and remember sometimes less is more.


Waugh T, Shadow Play.  Paint Nov 2016 page 12-13

Exercise 4 – Shadows and reflected light

I placed two reflective objects  next to each other and light with a strong light from one side.  The two objects were a black shiny sewing case and a white shiny container.  I just used a charcoal stick on A2 paper and did no sketch in pencil first, just used the charcoal to try and create the long lines.  Although it was a very quick drawing (and I might still come back to improve it) I found using the charcoal combined with a putty rubber effective at creating the tones and reflections.

img_20161203_161229I used the charcoal stick in a variety of ways, as it was a large drawing I used sweeps of the full length, this worked okay but evident in the drawing are areas where the stick has skipped across bumps in the paper.

I found the reflections and shadows work interesting as it made m look very closely at the tones on the sewing box.  I feel like I have started to grasp drawing shiny objects with reflections and looking at the reflected shadows too.

Exercise 3 – Creating Shadows using lines and marks

For this exercise we were asked to look at shadows and use a variety of marks to depict those shadows.  I first just used a page of my A3 sketchbook to experiment with the different marks and tones I could make using pencil, graphite sticks, charcoal, ink pens, paint and brush and fine pen:
I then chose  a very simple box and tried to depict that using pencil, charcoal stick, pen and paint:
Finally we were asked to group a small number of objects and use fast loose marks to depict them.  I placed a pot of brushes and 3 tubes of paint near a lamp and used charcoal to produce this in about 60 seconds.