When I teach a painting class, I often challenge painters to think about painting the shapes which occur between objects. In the art world, we call it “painting the negative.” That is “emphasize the positive shapes by painting in the spaces between them.” For beginning painters it is often a difficult concept to grasp; however, when the aha moment occurs a leap of skill and understanding enriches the painting surface immediately. One is never the same after he “gets it.” The artist begins to see how a composition is woven together by developing the relationships between the positive and the negative. Matisse put it this way, “I don’t paint things. I paint only the difference between things.” Truly, it is a metaphor for a deeper understanding of life events. As we see  differences, appreciate them, accept them, and acknowledge their value, life’s journey develops a confident trust in the positive, supported by the “spaces between.”

Geranium Joy “Geranium Joy”
(watermedia/collage, 12X12X2 inches)

The shapes of the dark spaces between the shapes of the leaves and stems supports and establishes the brilliance of “Geranium Joy” in a similar way that rest, quietness, retreat and contemplation support and establish life’s joys.

I paint not by sight,
but by faith.
Faith gives you sight.
A. Ferguson

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