The Virtues of Negative Space

We all have minds full of preconceived ideas about how things are. We often deal in symbols and abbreviations for things—as long as we can identify them and they suit our needs.

For seeing and drawing, though, what we think we know is not a help, but a hindrance. It is Old Lefty butting in to tell what he knows. And what does he know? Sure, he has the chair in his head—the size of the seat, the length of the legs (all equal), and the arrangement of all the other shapes. But when seen at an angle in space, everything is different. The seat of a chair is a parallelogram, not a square. The imaginary line between the four feet is also not a square, but another parallelogram. The shapes and spaces are not equal—you saw that as you drew your chair with the viewfinder frame. So, as usual, it is best to get Old Lefty out of the process of seeing and drawing.

Parallelograms.

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