Positive and Negative Space Lesson Plan
Does a negative space have shape? In this exercise, the students will explore the relationship between positive and negative space. After all, one can't exist without the other.
Elementary through Junior High
One class period (45 - 60 minutes)
To develop promote an awareness of shape and space. Students will create an
original visual image using colored construction paper that will demonstrate that all spaces
within a work of art have their own unique shapes.
Space and shape, two of the elements of design,
work together to form a finished work of art. There are two kinds
of space: positive and negative. Positive spaces are those
occupied by the main subjects of the work. The Negative spaces
are the areas around and behind the positive spaces. Negative
space can also be referred to as the background.
It is no mystery that the shapes of positive spaces
are determined by the shapes of the main subjects of the work.
However, negative spaces have shapes as well. If one removes the
subjects from a work, the negative spaces are left with a blank in
the shapes of the parts removed. Therefore, the shapes of the
negative spaces are determined by the shapes of the positive spaces.
- Select one color of construction paper and cut
to 9" × 6". Distribute one color of 9" × 12" and
the contrasting color of 9" × 6" construction paper to each student.
- Using the half sheet (9" × 6"),
students draw and carefully cut out half of a picture or design along the 9" length.
- The full sheet (9" × 12") can be
folded in half along the 9" length to determine the center of the
sheet. The parts cut from the half sheet are arranged along the
fold forming half the design. The remaining parts are placed on
the opposite side of the full sheet in locations opposite those
from which they were cut. Glue the parts down.
- The final project will have a positive image
on one side of the full sheet and a negative image on the other.
- An optional approach would be to "hinge"
everything down the center using transparent tape. This will produce
an image that is at first simply two contrasting vertical rectangles.
When the design is "opened" the positive-negative images appear.
In summary, the images can be as simple or as complex
as the age level of the students will allow. Positive-negative images
are interesting in that nothing is wasted. Everything that is cut from
one side is used on the other. The resulting visual images are
challenging and stimulate the imagination of students.
Teacher reviews each student's work to verify that each project meets with the minimum lesson requirements.
- All shapes have been placed symmetrically.
- Check craftsmanship, quality and neatness of line and fill.
If time permits, or if an additional day of discussion is available, experiment with different colors and shapes. Once may not be enough for this project, it will stimulate their imagination, and they'll want more!
Info and Ideas
2003 Lesson Plans