Negative Shapes and Spaces

In starting a painting I look at the basic shapes. I begin with a large brush and block in the masses. Visual interest increases with irregularity and variability of shapes. Spaces between shapes also need to be visually interesting. Every shape in nature is interesting and so should be for the shapes in a painting. Visual appeal comes with varied indents and projections of those shapes. The closer the shape is to the basic square, triangle, and circle the closer it is to boring.

Strut
8" X 8"
Oil

While grouping positive shapes, watch for the negative shapes formed by them. 

Pick out the shapes in these Anders Zorn paintings.


Anders Zorn
"Mrs. Eben Richards"
1899
Oil
60 X 42.25 in

There is a nice, rich, strong black background shape formed from the off white figure.


Anders Zorn
"Francis Folsom Cleveland"
1899
Oil
54 X 36.25 in

In this painting the shapes blend in to one another except for the 2 + shapes in the shadows and her dark hair. I love the almost mono color scheme.

Anders Zorn
Mrs. Emma Zorn
1900
Etching

Here Zorn works with 2 shapes: The positive shape of the silhouette; The negative shape is the white background.



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