The He(art) of Negative Space.

Painting by Na Kim

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about negative space. In art, negative space is the space around or between subjects in an image.

At a young age, I learned about negative space while making still life drawings in art class.

For hours, I sat in front of an arrangement of objects — a mixture of pots, fruits or plants — and captured their shapes, colors and shadows with pencils, charcoals and pastels on paper.

“Pay close attention to the negative space,” my art teacher instructed. “It balances out the rest of the composition.”

I squinted my eyes, honing in on the spaces between the objects — They were irregularly shaped and capturing them was always the most challenging part. It was then that I learned to look out for the in between spaces around me; how to find and appreciate their beauty.

Little did I know that many of my first art lessons, were life lessons in disguise.

At some point growing up and into adulthood, I lost sight of this lecture. I forgot to perceive negative space as a positive.

Months ago, I was riding a taxi across the Williamsburg Bridge. I looked up just in time to see pieces of New York and the night sky coming through the empty spaces of the bridge.

Negative space, I thought.

Later I shared on Instagram, “In art (and in life) negative space is just as beautiful as positive space.”

Observing that fleeting moment was a nice reminder of an art (and life) lesson I had long forgotten.

What if our negative spaces were actually positive? What if our mistakes and struggles weren’t the things that broke us, but instead were the glue that holds us together?

Whenever I feel utterly lost, I try to remind myself of this concept. Little by little, I’m figuring out how I can use my lows to create my highs. I am actively pushing myself to find the beauty in the in between spaces.

Next time you feel down ask yourself: How can I use my vulnerability as artistic inspiration?

Art school may be long over but the school of life is never ending. It’s up to us to continue challenging ourselves to live artfully.