Problem Solvers

Here are some common problems in composing drawings, and helpful solutions to them. See if any of these problems pertain to the drawings you've created so far, and refer to the solutions in the future to reinforce your understanding of composition fundamentals.

"I use charcoal to figure out where to put everything, because I keep changing where I want to place things. "

-student kathy epstein right: PROBLEM. Large spaces around an object make it look lonely and isolated. far right: SOLUTION. Reduce the negative space if that's not your intent.

right: PROBLEM. Tight negative space seems to pressure the subject or make it look squeezed. far right: SOLUTION. Increase negative space or let the subject exit cleanly. Avoid ending just at the edge or cropping out only a tiny bit.

right: PROBLEM. Equal spaces look boring and predictable. The eye is a hedonist and wants to be entertained! far right: SOLUTION. Place your subject matter off center. Use value "schmutz" in negative spaces to make them look different from each other.

Negative Space Drawing


Use your small pad this week with composition in mind. Remember you can alter the basic pad format to any size just by drawing new borders. If you like the process of developing a polished still life, thumbnails can help you work through possibilities in a visual shorthand. Maybe you'll find an arrangement you'd like to take into a more developed drawing.

"My son is seven and just started playing the saxophone, so I had a special feeling about it. I like the way the mood is conveyed in the negative space, because it adds so much to the drawing—almost like a halo around things—more atmosphere, more presence."

—student |ane wolansky

"Whenjou're raising children,you never actually get to finish anything. To actually do something and complete it and get a result is mindblowing! It's the first time in twelvejears I've gotten to do something like that. "

-student helen lobrano

"Even though I may have problems with aspects of all of the pieces, it's still fulfilling to have something there that I could never have done before. It gives me hope that I may be able to learn more and get better."

-student kjm nightingale

Seashell Old Illustration

"I'm pleased to have laid to rest the evil ghost of my fourth-grade art teacher, who looked at my earnest attempt to draw a person and announced for the entire class to hear, 'That's a stupid, asinine drawing!' (Some thingsjou never forget.)"

-student al roberts


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