Monday, October 31, 2011

Emptiness and Negative Space

If one has taken some good drawing lessons, one understands the power of making use of negative space in making good drawings. Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image (see image below). If a student focuses on drawing the negative space, he will create a good drawing. On the other hand, if a student focuses on the subject itself, he will very likely be swayed by his "knowledge" of the subject and will create a bad drawing or a drawing that doesn't correspond to reality! As simple as that.

In Buddhism it is called Kong (空), in Taoism it is called Xu (虛) or Wu (無). All talking about the same thing: "Emptiness" which is rich in meaning. The silent note in music, the pause and suspense in which nothing happens in drama.

Language is of no use here. The quickest way to understand the power of Negative space, or Kong or Wu, is to pick up a piece of paper and a pencil, and draw a negative space arising from a physical object. No wonder art-forms such as drawing can be very therapeutic. It is easier than reading the Diamond Sutra in most cases, and probably more enjoyable too....  :)

Negative space


  1. Very nice artwork to explain the concept!

  2. Thanks, I negatived one using my Photoshop...:)


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