Magic Moment of the Now, image by teZa

The Space In-Between is What’s Real

When I was learning to draw many decades ago, after attempting to do so on my own, I was instructed to pay most attention to “the empty spaces between things” and not on the actual shape of whatever I was drawing.

Upon first hearing this my brain spun, my eyes looped, my hand quivered, and my reasoning about “things” forever changed in one instant.

But then the instructor elaborated, explaining that to truly understand an object one has to first understand the space surrounding it. “You do this,” it was demonstrated, “by first focusing on the outermost edges of an object, squint your eyes if you have to, and duplicate on paper the negative shape of that empty space between the object’s outer edge and the next closest edge to it.”

This exercise creates a perfect replica of whatever object one chooses to duplicate. And to duplicate something is to understand it. Just as in science: when an experiment is able to be duplicated, it jumps from having started as a mere mental construct, an hypothesis, to graduating to being called a theory; into finally being proven by the established hierarchy of fundamental scientific requirements to being claimed a valid explanation of a phenomenon: a fact.

This negative-space concept was a startling revelation to all we art students. And I dare say, it is just as pertinent today as it was when I was studying such things as perspective, anatomy, composition, color theory, use of materials, and every form of art-making I could fit in before setting out on my own to create new ideas, the definition, for me, of good high, imaginative and worthwhile art.

Before understanding that so-called “negative spaces” are even more important than the positive space that objects occupy, I was lost in a sea of not seeing the true relationship between all things. A netherworld of subjective understanding was my three-dimensional limitation. But when I started to focus on the negative space between things, suddenly the beauty, structure, and substance of each “thing” I was attempting to decipher became clear. The relationship between spaces became limitless.

Today, I look “between the lines” and even “behind the words” besides still relying on using negative spaces to help define, and interpret this world in which I live. That long ago drawing instructor opened and expanded my vision to what this spatial world is all about. It, and we, who populate it, are much more than what we appear to be. We are not limited, nor defined by the space we occupy.

We have lots of negative spaces within ourselves that occupy our thoughts, our dreams, our ambitions. Enough to fill an entire lifetime … possibly more lifetimes than this here-and-now one. Discovering these negatives, the not-so-obvious, is my life’s work. My joy. My passion.

The journey of us who thrive on Earth as we hurl through space, twirling on this little blue ball of a garden planet in a sea of mysterious unknowns … we are the outermost edge of one interconnected thing. What we focus on, individually and as a race of homo sapiens, a blended family of humanity, is the negative space each of us is charged with figuring out for ourselves. And those of us who choose to, share our aha! discoveries with each other.

I invite you to visit here for more of mine.



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teZa Lord

teZa Lord


Author/Artist /Spirit Activist. Visit . listen to ZLORD podcast & see my YouTube MindStillers. NEW book, a magic-realism eco-novel coming SOON.