“Music is the space between the notes.”

-Claude Debussy, French composer

I have been thinking about positive and negative space. It’s a factor in my artwork.

When a painter starts with a blank canvas, paint is added to create a painting.  For a clay sculpture (my former playground), there is more give and take. Start with a lump or a slab, put pieces together. Add chunks, carve and remove. An ongoing dance of addition and subtraction.  A more traditional sculptor starts with a block of marble, wood or other medium and creates their sculpture by taking away. Often removing large quantities of the medium to reveal the beauty within.

Artists create something from nothing, sometimes magically so. But what about when the nothing, what’s not there, is the point?

Ever really looked at the FedEx logo? Have you seen the arrow? Great little metaphor for an overnight delivery company, huh? Negative space at work.

Not surprisingly, it isn’t always easy to design a piece by considering what you are going to remove. It’s seeing what’s not there and reducing it to what you want to remain.

What IS there is now defined by what’s NOT there, what you took away. Sometimes, this hurts my head to think about.  I just get back to working it until I like it.

I think Debussy was implying that beauty needs a certain amount of emptiness to be appreciated. This works for art too.