My sister, Jo-Ann, is a brilliant artist. If you asked her, she would say her medium is oils, but she excels in printmaking as well. See her work at www.JAMelrose.com
I am not an artist – well, not in the traditional sense. My medium is metal. I can’t draw so much as a stick figure. You wouldn’t want to play “Hangman” with me; you’d be dead within 6 letters. My sister, however, could keep you alive with ears, nose, hands, even a belly button. She insists that anyone can draw. ‘Just pick up a pencil and put it to paper!’ she exclaims. I’m sure, if I really put my mind to it, and practiced – a lot – I could give the hanging guy more of a chance, but who has THAT much time?
Recently, while sipping cocktails and solving the worlds problems, the subject of drawing came up again. But this time Jo-Ann said something that I had never heard before; ‘Look at the negative spaces.’ She suggested instead of getting hung up on trying to render an apple, or table, or whatever subject matter at hand, I look at the space around it. Draw the line that forms the space on the left side of the subject, or the top or bottom. Wow. This rocked my world! All of a sudden I was seeing things in a very different light. Trees, bridges, even telephone poles and their wires became intricate, beautiful images.
Ok, so how does this relate to your metalwork you ask? Well, much of my frustration when making a piece is seeing past the single plane. Using the negative space theory, now when I form a metal shape, I look at the relationship it has to it’s immediate surrounding space. This usually leads to another shape, and perhaps, another, which is now related to the first, and so on, creating a more pleasing design. As I said; it rocked my world.