Mapping Out Negative Space

 In the last post, I mentioned how realism is currently stressed in my 8th grade classes to prepare students for some of the rigors of high school Art.  I came across the work of Leslie DeRose. DeRose takes images of bikes and mixes them with maps, paint, and a few other materials to make some really eye-catching artwork (as I have not contacted DeRose, I will not publish her images here, but please do take the time to click-through to see her wonderful work!).

DeRose plays with foreground/background and negative space. She uses maps as the foreground, and they take the shape of the bikes.   I thought this would make great project to review negative space, realism, and to reiterate drawing skills. . . . If you aren’t able to draw a killer image of bike parts, your work won’t turn out.

I don’t know DeRose’s process (her finished works are soo lovely), but here is our simplistic paper-tempera interpretation/homage to her work:

1. I collected maps.  Honestly, I’ve been collecting them for years.  Most of my maps came from those visits from teacher-insurance people who always give out freebies (like maps) when they visit. I’ve been keeping them (and collecting from other teachers) for a special project like this.

2. I printed out about fifty different versions of non-motorized bikes (some look futuristic, some vintage, some typical).

3. Students selected a bike and made a view finder.

4. Students draw a contour line drawing of exactly what they saw inside their viewfinder on a white sheet of paper.

5. Students then traced their contour line drawing onto a map (map sheets and contour drawing paper were the exact same size and pre-cut by me). Students used two light boards and the windows to trace.

6. Students painted only the backgrounds of their map drawings using values of one color (we used biggie cake tempera and liquid tempera paints).

7. Students used a contrasting paint pen color to re-trace the contour line map drawing of their bikes

8. Students mounted work and prepared for display.

 This student just really wanted to do a plane. . .And, I said “of course!).

7 thoughts on “Mapping Out Negative Space”

  1. I'm crazy about this innovative lesson! I love that it uses work from a contemporary, working artist. It seems simple enough for the kids to handle, but it has plenty of good techniques mixed in. Plus, who doesn't like maps and bicycles? As a teacher who mostly borrows lessons from blogs and Pinterest pins, I truly admire your ability to conceive such original, well-thought out lesson plans. I hope your students, parents, and administrators appreciate the great work you do.

  2. I was inspired by DeRose's work too, but shame on me, did not go beyond looking at the pin. I did not use her image when introducing the lesson, but rather took inspiration from her color and subject matter. Last year my students did this lesson: We painted them on recycled cardboard and much like your awesome student works, there was a great rate of success. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Wow! Wat sophisticated artwork! I'm SO impressed. I love everything about these -the maps, the values, the contrasting outlines, the compositions. I love them so much I can't even pick a favorite. I'd frame and hang these in my home!

  4. Thanks, Amy. I hadn't yet seen your lesson and was already trying to figucre out how to use DeRose's bicycle art in my middle/high school art class. I was torn about whether I should have the kids draw from observation of an actual bike or use a photo or graphic. Maybe we'll start with the observational drawing of real bicycles (lugging 2 bikes in to school is squashing my inspiration, though!) and then see if the drawings are workable. I also loved the artwork of DeRose and wanted to use it as inspiration for lessons on negative/positive space and tints/shades. Thanks for your post and the great pics! 🙂

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