Printing Shapes with Negative Spaces

Printing Shapes with Negative Spaces

I absolutely LOVE the effect of printing shapes with negative spaces! If you haven't tried this yet, you need to! Not only is the end result beautiful, but the process is truly relaxing!

You may remember we've played with printing negative spaces before.

The idea is to use shapes to hide areas of the paper, print over the top and then later remove the shapes to reveal white, or negative, spaces.

If you're like me and understand better with photos, here's a few to show the process.

Cut shapes out of recycled cardboard
First we cut out shapes from an old cereal box. Yeah for recycling!

Next we arranged the shapes on a large piece of paper. We ended up securing the shapes in place with tiny loops of sticky tape. Rubber cement or blue tack would have worked well but as we didn't have any, we had to improvise.

Print over the top of the shapes
Once the shapes were lightly secured in place, it was time to sponge over the top of the shapes, covering all the paper in between the shapes. The paint actually forms the background of the painting.

Hint: apply the paint sparingly, adding more as needed. One of our young artists enjoyed this part so much that his painting was covered in a thick layer of paint which ended up seeping under the shapes and distorting them. The end result was still beautiful and a wonderful learning opportunity as we talked about why the shapes weren't crisp and clear.

Print over the top of the shapes sparingly

The next step involved pulling the shapes off to reveal the negative, or blank, spaces.

Remove the cardboard shapes to reveal the negative or blank spaces
Then it was time to let the painting dry.

This art project was carried out over a period of several days with everyone doing a bit more when they wanted to.

Using a lead pencil, the negative spaces were then broken into smaller shapes of different sizes. I loved this part of the activity as there were no right or wrong ways to divide the picture up. We just drew what inspired us. Does that sound "artistic" or what?!
Add pencil lines and colour

As we went, we coloured the different shapes with water colours or water colour pencils. Seriously, I could have done this for hours as it was so relaxing! The project ended up being a we-us-and-co-affair as people came and went and added things as they wanted to.

Note: We limited our colour selection to warm colours for the castle (i.e., pinks, reds, yellows & oranges). It would also have looked fantastic with cool colours. Obviously you don't need to limit the colour palette for your project but it's something to think about - a good way to introduce warm & cool colours to children.

Eventually we ended up with different pieces of artwork, each with their own beauty.
Finished Painting
Finished Painting
I'd love to see your child's work using this method. Please feel free to post any photos, or feedback, on this post or on our facebook page. Have fun!

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You may also like these activities:

Printing with Negative Spaces
Printing with Negative Spaces
Scribbly Painting
Scribbly Painting

Return to the Articles List for other children's learning activities or children's book reviews.

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