Negative Shapes in Composition
Negative shapes in composition refer to the space that surrounds a particular figure or object. While many artists and photographers tend to use the phrase negative space, I find the word "shape" is better suited for fine tuning your visual literacy skills. However, regardless of your terminology, it's important to keep in mind that sometimes negative shapes can overpower the positive elements in a design if the artist isn’t careful or aware. A delicate balance is required.
The painting below, “The Governess,” by Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin, demonstrates the use of negative shapes in a composition.
In the painting above, notice how Leon Kroll is using the negative space between the figure and background to create repeated triangular shapes in his composition.