Early introduction and regular emphasis on negative space is a good method to learning about still-life drawing for children. A still-life describes a genre of art. It is an arrangement of objects within a framed composition. In a still-life composition, mastery of these basis art elements make a composition successful

  • construction of geometric shapes
  • keen observation of scale and proportion
  • understanding of light and shadow depicted through tones
  • creating a balance of objects within the
  • sensitivity to negative space (empty space around the objects)
  • creating texture

Negative space is one element many learners find difficult to grasp. And often when negative space is forgotten, we can find the perspective and placement of objects within the composition different from the objects placed in front of the artist.

As a young child, it is common practice for many of us to create art by filling colours into the key subjects and when we are done. We continue to fill in the colours till the last thing left is the empty space around all the subjects, this is the negative space.


On alternative occasions, we can start to introduce negative space to young learners by having them fill in these spaces first.

This is demonstrated by A Flock of Birds by Aaron Yap. He filled in the background first, in this instance, it is the sky and tree.

It is during this exercise that young learners are forced to take a step back from the art piece to identify and associate spaces and shapes around the key object/subject.

Contributed by Teacher Ranae’s Art Workshop from Singapore for children with special needs

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