The Joy of Negative Space

One of the ways I’m filling odd moments during my winter travels is to work on the pages in my “coloring calendar.”  I hope to have it finished by January 1.

I use these line drawings as exercises in making color choices. Here are the first two, January and February.Trettin_coloring calendar

Trettin_coloring calendar

I hit a snag with March. I became over exuberant and tried to emphasize color AND pattern AND shape. Focusing on one element would be safer, or perhaps two, but refusing to give up anything meant the image dissolved into an ill-defined mess.

Trettin_calendar art


I could look at this as a failure, or as an opportunity to decide what to do next. I decided to recreate a calm, solid backdrop so that the creatures would better stand out. To do that, I traced the negative space around them, cut the negative shapes out of Tyvek, and glued them around the images.Trettin_coloring calendar

I painted the new background silver, in keeping with the theme of an illuminated manuscript. This was much more satisfying

Trettin_coloring calendar




About Lillian-Trettin

I grew up in the Appalachian "Bible Belt" of East Tennessee in the southern United States, listening to banjo music and gospel lyrics as well as the Beatles. As a kid, I was curious about religious rituals like speaking in tongues and snake handling but resistant to the fundamentalist thinking they involved. Flannery O'Connor's tales of religious fanatics, con men, bigots, and the spiritually bereft or ambivalent resonate for me. Despite having traveled widely and lived in other places, I am (as so many Southerners claim to be) permanently "South haunted." I returned to making art full time in 2011, following a career as a teacher, researcher, and consultant and after raising two sons. I’m convinced the delay enriched rather than impeded my growth as an artist.
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