Negative Shapes

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
Tuesday, 27th May, 2008

previous | this month | home page | next

THIS LITTLE SKETCH, drawn, as so many are these days, as I sat in a waiting room, shows my habitual way of drawing: I start, since I’m right-handed,  in the top left and work across and down, trying to transfer the complex texture into some equivalent in pen lines on paper.


But it does give an effect similar to embroidery. However carefully I draw, at this time of year, with the trees in full leaf and on a dull afternoon without much light and shade, the structure of the tree isn’t going to be obvious.



Here’s another approach, drawn this evening back at home:


1. With a 0.3 Pilot Drawing Pen, I draw the spaces between the foliage of next door’s sumac, seen framed by our window.


2. Leaving the spaces blank I fill in the foliage areas with a Pentel Brush Pen.

It was quite difficult to keep observing the negative shapes as my habitual mode of drawing kept popping back to the surface and I’d find myself going back to drawing the outlines of the leaves themselves - the ‘positive’ shapes. Drawing the isolated spaces without the reassuring links of bunches of leaves and branches in between them, I assumed that I would be way out with the overall shape of the bush but when I inked in the foliage I wasn’t so far off.


I can easily see this drawing as a pattern of white islands on a map and, once that image has established itself in my mind, it takes a little effort to make it pop back to being the silhouette of a sumac.

Here are two more silhouettes, both not much more than 10 minute drawings:

previous | this month | home page | next