Part 2 – Positive & Negative Space

Garry Hume


Hume uses the drama of the positive and negative shapes to fill and over run the canvas. I like the way that although the figure is one colour by laying over the flowered background it still looks like it is striding towards the viewer.

Fiona Rae

Untitled (grey and brown) 1991 by Fiona Rae born 1963

This is a much more complex arrangement of layers of positive on top of negative where the former positive became part of the negative space as the painting builds towards the foreground.   You can almost see the different objects/shapes as if painted on distinct clear layers and then laid over each other.    Something that would be interesting to try.

Gillian Ayres


Ayres builds bold almost cut out shapes of paint on top of the ground and with the careful choice of colours which help to allow some to recede slightly whilst other “flowers” come to the fore.

Howard Hodgkins


Again by careful but similar colours the artist has created a landscape/scene with relatively few marks and colours.   The greatest achievement is that the painting still draws the eye into the distance.

David Hockney


By creating this huge block of trees disappearing into the distance as well as the outlines of the trees nearer Hockney achieves central status in the picture.   This is further emphasised by the positive and negative shapes achieved with the grass and roads as they diverge from the foreground.   Additionally the stark dark negative shapes of the squat shrubs (vines) to the right emphasis once again the immense height of the trees themselves.

Michael Craig-Martin


This very graphic style with its artistic references achieves complex shapes and spaces built one on top of the other without necessary reference to scale or a horizontal surface. Nevertheless the objects are readable in relation to each other and the painting as a whole.The limited colour palette helps to achieve this harmony.

Patrick Caufield

Still Life Ingredients 1976 by Patrick Caulfield 1936-2005

Again a rather graphic example this time using positive and negative space  with colours as well as line to create presence.