In art negative space is where the focus is on the background rather than on the object itself.  In the sketch of a tree, for example, the vivid surroundings outline the shape, but the area inside the tree itself is vacant.  When drawing negative space, the artist pays close attention to the contours of the object and their interaction with the environment.   

It can be easy to fall into the trap of defining ourselves by the negative spaces in our lives.  I do not know who I am, but I know who I am not: 

I know I am not like my __________. 

You fill in the blank:  co-workers, parents, siblings, friends, neighbours, etc.  

I don’t like ____________

You fill in the blank: winter, black coffee, swimming, etc.   

I don’t believe ________.

I disagree with_______. 

I don’t like that they_________. 

I don’t want _______________.    

Our default setting seems to focus on the background, seeing ourselves only in relation to the environment we are in.  Looking within the contours of ourselves, it is quickly evident that the positive space is more complex.  This is partly because the contents are continuously changing as we age and grow.  What are my values?  What are my goals?  What is important to me?What do I want?  Defining positive space takes a million tiny assertions throughout every single day.  

Article by Jeana Les, Art by Mariah Schuurman