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Embracing Mindfulness Through Art: Drawing Negative Space

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC

In a world brimming with constant stimuli and demands, the quest for moments of mindfulness has never been more crucial. Amid the myriad mindfulness practices, there exists an unconventional yet profoundly impactful avenue — drawing negative space. Drawing negative space is a technique that involves focusing on the space around the subject, rather than the subject itself. It can be a valuable tool in art therapy, providing a unique way to enhance mindfulness and self-awareness. Let's delve into the benefits of drawing negative space as a mindfulness practice and explore how it can enrich your life through a variety of techniques.

Contour Drawing

One approach is contour drawing, where attention is directed to the outlines and edges of the subject, emphasizing the space between objects. This shift in perspective encourages a heightened awareness of the interplay between positive and negative space, prompting individuals to perceive the subject in a more holistic manner. By meticulously tracing the contours, individuals engage in a deliberate act of observation, fostering a connection with the subtle nuances of the subject's boundaries.

Through this process, the artist not only captures the external form but also brings attention to the often overlooked spaces that define and shape the subject. This approach not only cultivates technical drawing skills but also serves as a metaphorical exploration of the spaces within and around oneself, promoting self-reflection and expression in a therapeutic setting.

Blind contour drawing takes this further by challenging the artist to keep their eyes on the subject while drawing the negative space without looking at the paper, fostering spontaneity and intuition.

Grid Drawing

Grid drawing is a structured technique that divides the drawing area into sections, encouraging the artist to focus on each square individually and draw the negative space accurately within each one. In this approach, the drawing area is systematically divided into sections, creating a grid-like framework that serves as a guide for the artist. Each section becomes a distinct unit of focus, urging the artist to concentrate on every individual square within the grid. This deliberate segmentation prompts a meticulous examination of both the subject and its corresponding negative spaces.

Negative Space Drawing

In the context of art therapy, drawing negative space serves as a mindfulness practice with various psychological benefits. This approach increases awareness and a sense of groundedness by directing attention to the relationship between objects and their surroundings, promoting a mindful connection with the present moment. The act of observing and drawing negative space keeps individuals focused on the present, reducing anxiety related to past or future concerns.

Moreover, the practice encourages non-judgmental observation, fostering self-acceptance and diminishing self-criticism. Emotional expression is facilitated through the creative process, and the focus on negative space provides a unique avenue for individuals to symbolically represent their emotions. This technique allows for indirect expression, potentially uncovering hidden thoughts or emotions that may be challenging to articulate directly.

Additionally, drawing negative space supports a cognitive shift by encouraging individuals to see things from different perspectives, promoting cognitive flexibility and problem-solving skills. The symbolic representation of negative space in one's life can become a metaphor for unspoken or overlooked aspects, offering a platform for exploration and expression in therapeutic settings. Overall, incorporating the drawing of negative space into art therapy sessions provides a rich and nuanced approach for individuals to explore their emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

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Drawing Negative Space


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