How Yin & Yang helps the portrait artist

I use the concept of yin/yang positive/negative in EVERY drawing I do! Its a way of thinking & seeing that makes drawing complicated forms possible. It was a revelation to me, many years ago when I first discovered it in the excellent – Drawing on the right side of the brain by Betty Edwards. the crazy fact is – drawing spaces that you have no emotional pre-existing memories of can be seen for what they are, your brain with all its prejudices doesn`t get in the way and drawing becomes easier. The negative spaces are given equal importance to the positive forms so that all parts of a drawing work together to create a unified image. When drawing the eye, the whites (sclera) of the eye I decided were the negative spaces & the iris & pupil together were the positive. This allowed me to concentrate on these spaces better, leading to an accurate depiction. In the dog portrait, the dog is the positive & the areas in between the legs, within the twist of the tail, from the rear legs to the curve of the hill, etc.. are the negative spaces. In the painting of the group in the garden, the negative spaces are – beneath the table, in between the chair legs, the areas below the chair arms and seat, the wall, the grass. The positive – the table, the chairs, the people, the tree, the back door. This approach allows you to draw difficult things easily, that would otherwise confuse.

Yin Yang symbol

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