|B&W #6, 2000, oil drawing on paper, 12" x 9"
by Lisa Dinhofer
An artist I interviewed recently, Lisa Dinhofer, said that being a good draftsman isn't enough. She said putting the emphasis on the objects in your scene is risky if it leads to forgetting that the negative space is where your piece is either going to excel or be average. Understanding negative space is one of the fundamental skills in drawing. Dinhofer agrees: "The most important part of a painting is the space between the objects. It's also the hardest part to paint. But that's where the poetry is."
In some cases, the negative space is drawn, even if it is just some hatching to provide a tone. But often in people's drawings, the negative space is simply the paper. And that makes choosing the paper very important.
I am a fan of toned paper. It's expensive, but if I plan on spending even a coupla hours on a drawing, the cost is justified. I use colored pastel paper in a pad, usually from Canson. But I also like using Bogus Rough Sketch from Bee Paper. It's designed for fashion sketches, but its significant tooth and nice brown tone make it a great paper upon which to work up and down in value. Will it survive 300 years of humidity, traces of acidity, and UV light? Probably not, but my financial plans for my grandchildren currently do not include the future sale of my sketch-group sketches.
Dinhofer was talking about paintings, and that usually means actively adding some pigment to an otherwise white surface. She is going to have to put some paint in those negative spaces anyway. But more important, she sees them as active, crucial areas of the painting. But in a drawing, what should one do? Is Dinhofer suggesting that placement on the page and composition are more important in a drawing than just about anything else? (I'll ask her, but I'm interested in your thoughts on this.)
Would anyone like to chat about this topic? Please comment below.