Negative Spaces

Mystery is negative space.

As an artist I thrive on mystery. I do not take for granted what I cannot see. What I can see, I understand that even at it's fundamental level I cannot perceive the substance or scene in its entirety. I am not God. The passage below reminds me of my limitations and always makes creating art into an awe-inspiring event:

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.- 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

As artists we exploit the principle of what is not seen defines what is seen as often as we possibly can. Follow the points below and you will understand how it works and how we think.

1. There is NO MYSTERY in virtual white space. A solid of any kind is not compelling. It has no weight or relevance by itself. This is something like walking through a pure whiteout after a snowstorm. Pure white, you would feel as if you were unable to go anywhere. A feeling of perpetual lack of direction.

2. There is NO MYSTERY in virtual black space. Have you ever been stuck in a dark room with no light available? It is as if you were paralyzed. You feel as if you were disconnected.Only the introduction light will move you toward mystery.

3. Two white boxes only show equality. There is NO CONFLICT. You need conflict in order create mystery. Mystery requires an unbalanced feeling. This is not possible without conflict.

4. CONFLICT alone is not enough to create mystery. Black against white definitely begins to create tension, but if it is balanced like stripes it does not finish the job.

5. SUSPENSE starts to get to mystery. Though it is clear that there is a struggle. Suspense can happen with equality still in mind. Therefore, artistically it is not that interesting. It lacks Power.

6. MYSTERY can be created in two different ways. When black dominates it is an overpowering type of mystery. Compelling like a pure dark room, but since one shard of light appears it can cause suspense and wonder. Wonder is probably the most essential ingredient in the recipe for Mystery. It captures our imaginations.

7. MYSTERY created where there is a shard of black in a sea of white causes us to think about resilience. A lone survivor or just loneliness can be derived. It is compelling with a sense of wonder that causes awe at the sight of  one lone element defying the system that surrounds it.

Now you see how we think about composition and what ramifications a sense of mystery carries. Perhaps it will cause you to view the greater picture when view art, nature, or humanity as a whole. Challenge yourself to push the limits of mystery. It will truly wrap others into the work you create.

I created these examples based on an ink piece that I did. Click on this link to see the full image: The Edge Of The Forest.

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