Negative Space Tree Drawings

6th Grade Draw­ings of the Trees in our Park­ing Lot!

If you hurry, you can still fit this project in before the trees start sprout­ing leaves and you have to wait til fall!

Kids love any excuse to get out of the class­room, so if you can, go out­side and have them do the first part of this project “from life”. If that’s not pos­si­ble, or you don’t have any good trees nearby, some good ref­er­ence pho­tos will do.

1. Start by talk­ing about pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive space. In this case, the pos­i­tive space is the tree trunk and branches and the neg­a­tive space is the area between the branches and around the tree.
2. Use a viewfinder to select the part of the tree you want to draw. You can make a viewfinder using two “L” shaped pieces of paper or you can even use your fin­gers. Close one eye as you look through your viewfinder, mov­ing it around to find the most inter­est­ing com­po­si­tion.
3. Now d
o a contour draw­ing (edges only — no detail or shading), crop­ping it (have it go off the page) to add interest. Pay atten­tion to the shapes cre­ated by your neg­a­tive spaces.… this will help you draw the pos­i­tive spaces around them.
4. Remind stu­dents to pre
ss lightly as they draw so they can erase as needed with­out leav­ing a “shadow” of the lines they don’t want.
5. Trace over your pen­cil lines with a black Ultra Fine Sharpie, then erase any pen­cil lines still show­ing.
6. Use mark­ers to color the neg­a­tive spaces. You can choose one color
for the whole draw­ing or sev­eral col­ors to give your draw­ing a “stained glass” look. Be care­ful to color all one direction!

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3 Responses to Negative Space Tree Drawings

  1. Valerie March 14, 2009 at 4:52 pm #

    These look really neat… love the idea of neg­a­tive space in draw­ings like that. Fabulous!

    Valerie

  2. Paula August 13, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Hi! You’ve just saved my day tomor­row. Been pro­cras­ti­nat­ing about doing a les­son plan for a sum­mer camp class tomor­row. Inter­net addic­tion had me wast­ing time on it instead of focus­ing on think­ing about the lessons. Thought it should be from nature. (the room we’re using has no view so we’ll be out­side, weather per­mit­ting). I’ll plump for the neg­a­tive spaces from nature idea — it’s a mixed-age group — some a bit below, most above grade 6 level but with not much art expe­ri­ence. This will do fine (even though a sim­i­lar les­son I gave my own grade 6 at school didn’t work out so well, some while ago).
    I think it will fit in with my theme of left ver­sus right brain. Some did the usual lol­lipop tree with labels when asked to observe, so i have a bat­tle on my hands — (to dis­guise the bat­tle in the guise of ‘hav­ing fun’ with it.…)
    Think I’ll add a few can­dles and turn it into a wax –resist tech­nique thing. (Hope that works with watery acrylix).
    Next step — give the lap­top to the neighbour’s kid, and start doing some­thing more cre­ative with my time off than being online the whole time…
    (really I don’t need all this extra infor­ma­tion!!)
    Thanks again

    • Cheryl Trowbridge August 14, 2013 at 12:52 am #

      I hope your stu­dents will have as much fun with this as mine have, Paula! They always enjoy going out­side to draw… I really should try to get them out there more often!!

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