What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
lilBuddha Veteran Member • Posts: 4,376
Re: What is (and is not) "Negative Space"? (And how do you use it.)

stevo23 wrote:

lilBuddha wrote:

stevo23 wrote:

lilBuddha wrote:

, they can be chaotic. That most are not is a function of basic design and not arabesque in itself.

Chaotic in what way? They are arabesques - curves that run through an image/painting that tie elements together and create a sense of movement.

They do not have to tie elements together. The basic definition is

No, they don't have to, but more often than not, they do. Because of what they are, our eyes naturally follow them.

Not because of what they are, but because good design uses technique. You are describin technique creating good design and that is not how it works.

an ornamental design consisting of intertwined flowing lines, originally found in Arabic or Moorish decoration.

They can convey movement around the image. Or not. Many of the artistic elements which inspired the term do not move one's eye around the frame and only create movement in the sense that rain on a lake does.

By definition, in this context, as a compositional element, arabesques do exactly that since they move us through the image.

They do not have to.

Still not sure what problem you have with negative space.

You say conflicting definitions. Welcome to every single bit of art terminology, though.

You say figure to ground* which is the purpose of negative space. So you get the concept, but just don't like the name?

I would say that figure to ground comes first, negative space seems to be a way that people create it. You can have FGR without negative space and negative space doesn't necessarily create effective FGR.

Nothing "comes first". How an image comes together is the choice of the photographer. Separating the subject from the background is a choice. One that doesn't have to occur.

Negative space is a technique that typically highlights the subject, but doesn't have to.

Not trying to be snarky, but you understand art terminology and negative space is a very common term. The art world doesn't have an issue with it. Why do you?

It being what? In one day, I've seen way more definitions of it than I've seen of micro contrast. But I've not seen many people misunderstand FGR. So it's a better and more descriptive term of a real thing. I can't really say that about negative space.

Yeah, because some people here don't understand a thing, it doesn't exist? Art is the least understood subject on DPR.

And to be fair, most of the muddy confusion I find about negative space comes from photographers who think they know something about composition as in rule of thirds. Rule of thirds isn't a thing either, but photographers grab onto it like it's life itself.

The rule of thirds is most definitely a thing. What it isn't is an absolute. Like any other compositional technique, it is a guide that is often, but not always, useful.

*I'd not heard the term before. My art instructors were either more simple** or less pretentious as they merely called it the relationship between subject and background.

It is the relationship between foreground and background, at it's simplest. But I would say that the "ground" doesn't always have to be "back" ground although that is getting picky.

**They were professional fine artists, retired commercial artists and retired architects.

So it's pretentious to have a term for it? Is that condescending on purpose?

Not condescending, just accurate. There are terms in any given field that are essentially code for the in-crowd.

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