Starting the class with a few "negative drawings" is one way of introducing you to the space around object otherwise known as "the ground or negative space." The first art professor (Ezra Sellers) I had at Young Harris College in the mountains of North Georgia introduced our class to negative space drawings by asking us to take a pair of scissors and some black paper and cutting the space around the still life he had set up in class. We saw the space around the objects thus defining the object itself in silhouette. I still have those black and white paper collage drawings which I cherish because it was my first introduction to learning to draw. Once we found the negative shape then we were asked to place them together in a more formal way to create a larger more intricate composition.
Below are some examples of some negative space drawings (figure/ground drawings) from the web. Again, defining the space around objects and also creating interesting compositions.
Below I am including some amazingly beautiful drawings/prints by Ed Ruscha and Robert Longo. Ruscha has a long history of using graphite and intertwining the figure/ground relationships and building imagery. Examples of his work can be seen below:
The works by Robert Longo I'm including are usually positive images on a negative background. However, when you are looking at these drawings imagine he had drawn this in reverse. Meaning, what if his paper background were all BLACK and his drawing tools were white...then, indeed he would be creating negative space drawing. His drawings are seen below:
Here are a few Figure/Ground (Positive/Negative) drawings from last years summer class. Remember it's about composition as well as your interpretation and perspective.
Mary Helen Shepherd
Chao (Carol) Zhang