Monday, September 15, 2014

Negative Space

One week, two opportunities for learning about something I have given very little thought to thus far, "negative space."

I am a card-holding member of, believe it or not, the Yarmouth Art Guild.  Once a month we "artists" meet and together, we take a mini workshop from one of the many, many talented artists in our community.  My cousin is the secretary of the Guild so she has to sit in the front row where....she saves a seat for me.  Perfect viewing every time.  I don't miss as much as a brush stroke and I sit, riveted, hoping to go home inspired or at least to have discovered something new about a technique or a talented person and marine artist, Russell Vujus, did not disappoint. I was fascinated by each step he took as he began the process of creating a majestic seascape but it was the formation of clouds on the horizon that I most enjoyed. If you've ever painted or drawn a cloud and the end result was nothing more than a big white free form set on a blue background, it's probably because you did not consider negative space.  You filled your page or your canvas with what you thought would look like a cloud instead of taking away all that wasn't a cloud. Right?

The next day, while sitting with my father having coffee, another opportunity presented itself in a strange but true manner.  Out of nowhere, three, burly, half-naked men came marching through his backyard.  Whoa!  Dad was undaunted.  "Oh, they must be the tree guys".  Okay.  Good thing, they actually were the crew he hired to cut limbs that were hanging over his roof.  Before they completed their assignment, we hired them to prune a huge tree on the front lawn, one that blooms every spring, bursting with pink flowers.  It was my mother's pride and joy so I begged for an extra-special job of it and drove over the next day to check it out.  Where huge, useless branches had once filled the inside of the tree, blocking the sun and air, now remained open spaces.  Glorious open spaces which allow sun to filter through, right on to the lawn.  The tree has a new appearance and quite possibly, a whole new shot at life.  The "tree guys" kept their promise and Mom's tree looked so very much happier as if Mom herself were telling us to lighten up.  Dad was happy for having made the decision.

Clouds painted to look real when the artist took his white away with his blues, poking his brush in just the right places.  Tree pruners, clipping and cutting away all that was superfluous, allowing Mom's tree to thrive, the light to shine through the negative spaces.  Beauty in making less.  Light. Air. A cloud that looks like a cloud. A tree that looks like a tree. Befores and afters.

My niece got married yesterday.  It was a beautiful day for our family, filled with love and happiness.This morning, as I write this, I think of Daisy and Mark, the bride and groom, and I silently send up a prayer for them and hope that years later, they will look back at the true and honest beauty of a life that makes sense because they have left spaces.

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