Art Hacks: Using Positive/Negative Space in your Art

Cookie Redding, Artist, Designer, Teacher

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7 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. What is Positive and Negative Space?

    • 4. Demonstration:: Charcoal + Positive/Negative

    • 5. Demonstration:: Watercolor + Positive/Negative

    • 6. Class Project

    • 7. Conclusion


Project Description

Create a positive/negative study using natural found objects

In art, the positive space is the object we’re looking at (a vase, for example, on a table) and the negative space is the area around the object (the background).  By being able to understand this spatial relationship, you can hone in a more successful compositional arrangement. As artists and designers, we tend to focus mainly on the positive shapes in our composition, but the magic really happens in the negative’s equally as important as our positive space and this project will allow you time to devote on studying its spacial interaction.


  • Paper (or canvas if you are using acrylic paint)
  • Acrylic paint, Charcoal, or Ink & Brush (your choice)
  • Natural objects (leaves, twigs are ideal)


  • Gather materials
  • Arrange natural objects to draw
  • Explore positive/negative interaction as well as composition
  • Do not work as line first...think shape! Build as shapes
  • Fill the entire page with your design
  • Photograph and upload to Skillshare to share in our class projects...and have fun!

Student Projects