It was my last drawing class a couple of weekends ago. A great sprawling still life was arranged on the floor so we could consolidate our learnings on line, space and perspective. It was also important, the tutor added, to explore the “negative space”. This has been a favourite theme of hers but a concept I’ve struggled with. However, put simply, it means what isn’t there – e.g the space and shadow in or around objects, the absence of solid form – can be just as interesting as what is there.
The day before the class, I’d visited some friends who now live by the seaside. They have a three year old son who was happily playing and chatting to himself. We started talking about imaginary friends.
My nephew used to have an imaginary friend. His name was Sam and he was a dinosaur. Sam was friends with my nephew for a couple of years, but one day they fell out and he hasn’t been seen since.
I never had an imaginary friend. But I did have imaginary boyfriends. They were all real people but none were my boyfriend. One was called Adam, who played the trumpet in an orchestra I was in when I was younger. He smiled at me once very briefly (I think I may have knocked his music stand) and I was smitten. On a family holiday to Wales, I remember trailing behind my parents as we walked along wet beaches, with my arm stretched away from my body, as if holding Adam’s imaginary hand.
In my last drawing class, the hottie of the previous classes didn’t show up. While I got more done, and the results were marginally better, I found myself feeling a little bit disappointed. However, I finally got to grips with the concept of negative space.