Experimentation: using a dark ground as negative space

This is not a formal exercise but, prior to researching chiaroscuro, I wanted to play with the still life that I used in the previous exercise but in terms of negative space.  To this end, I painted some cards (roughly A6) with abstract designs, primarily with bright primary colours.  I then drew the negative space using charcoal, which is easily erased from acrylic, and used black gesso for the background.  Finally, I added a little more colour, selectively, and more black paint to create form and a sense of a bright light source as well as indicating the interior of the pot to bring a little more depth.  An example of this in its separate stages is shown below. The central image has reflected too much light and appears a bit washed out but its relationship to the other two should be clear.

Screen Shot 2013 11 19 at 22 14 20

Another example using a different colour scheme and blotting with kitchen towel to create an abstract print. Light is achieved through greater transparency of the layers than in the example above.  I like the tension created between the free-flowing lines of the red paint and the largely imagined, curved forms of the objects. Because the lines are applied intuitively, without a plan, some of them do help to depict the forms while others curve over and between them.  I will repeat this exercise in the future and consider ways to bring more form in subtle ways such as printing over the paint. The slight translucency of the thinly applied black gesso works better than a more opaque layer here because the eye is able to continue moving “beneath the paint” and return to the image elsewhere.  I also like the way in which it is often possible to see a semi-abstract human form in randomly applied paint.  Here, there is a stooping form sorting through a pile of laundry – bit like a Rorschach test but more fun!

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A final attempt used more yellow paint.  I wanted a bright image that would stand out well against a dark ground.  I drew the main shapes in using charcoal and subsequently embellished the shell with more paint to counteract the dominance of the yellow, bring in more colour balance and thus more “weight” to the foreground.

Screen Shot 2013 11 19 at 22 29 37

Finally, I tried collaging the images.  I scanned and cut up an inkjet copy.  Negative and positive images were then collaged on to A4 black card. These have not printed brightly, unfortunately, and so the subsequent scan is subdued but it it should be possible to see how they relate to the images above. I toyed with the idea of creating a “whole” vase on the right but decided that the odd cut-off created a dissonance, which appealed. I could have made the angles of both images the same – the fact that I didn’t is more lack of judgment than planning but it still works – I could experiment with different angles of positive and negative images side-by-side – one inverted? I had not appreciated the similar shapes of the pumpkin and seedpod until I saw them in silhouette. They create a clockwise movement around the image.

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