Negative space studies are a great practice opportunity for beginning artists, or creatives who are looking to refresh their skill.

When we explore a specific element of art such as negative space it means we are also limiting the results of the final drawing or painting. Obviously a combination of the elements and principles of art lead us to a more realistic outcome if we are drawing from life. That isn’t the goal of a study like the one I talk about today.

This can be hard to wrap our heads around. It feels like we assume every artwork we create needs to be this realistic, beautiful, finished work of art and if anything, including practice work, doesn’t meet those standards then something is wrong with our ability or quality of art.

Negative space drawings aren’t going to look like their objects! And that’s OK. Think of exercises like these as practicing musical scales to warm up playing the flute. We don’t expect playing musical scales to be this perfect piece of art and yet the standards we hold ourselves to when we put pencil or paintbrush to paper…?!

In this video from Self-Taught to Self-Confident I talk about resistance to still life setups and studying negative space, why it feels hard when it doesn’t “look like anything,” and I talk about how frustration and discomfort are actually a good sign you’re taking your art to the next level.

I also have a mini-lesson on negative space you can watch here.

Now it’s your turn:

What’s your experience with making time and space to “practice” your art?