Monday, February 22, 2010

Be My Guest Monday! The Negative Space

It's Monday! And here at Out of the Extraordinary that means it's Be My Guest Monday. If you'd like to get this super-cool award and guest post on my blog some Monday, click the link, read the deets, then contact me!

Today's guest blogger is Katherine at One Girl's Journey To The Altar. I have to say right now that this post is awesome, and such a blessing, because due to a communication error on my part, I didn't have the person lined up for today, nor had I set up Katherine with a blogging date. Well: Problem Solved! I emailed Katherine and not only was she quite gracious, but she also had a post already brewing, just for me! Hooray!!! Please go to Katherine's blog after you read this and catch up on her journey (unless you're one of her readers, in which case, please stick around here a little longer!) and give her some support as she reaches the final countdown to the wedding!!!

The Negative Space

This week, high school art class is on my mind. I think it started when I decided to (was forced to) clean out the back of my closet (for more details on what and why of that experience, click here.

One thing I learned from art was about drawing the negative space. I don’t know if they still teach this concept today, but I was taught that when you draw a tree or a face – or anything – attempt to not draw the tree, but the space around the tree. Don’t draw the nose, but draw the space around the nose. So, it’s almost like you are drawing these abstract shapes and not the pre-conceived ideas of what you think the tree or nose looks like.

I guess the good thing is that you can maybe draw a better picture like that. But the bad thing is that, because you are dissecting what is there so it is no longer a cohesive whole – just odd, individual shapes – you miss the beauty of the object, of what is actually a face or a tree.

So, it hit me that I sort of view life through the negative space. I tend to see all the things that aren’t there – or just the abstract pieces or voids – and I miss the beauty of the whole arrangement and what really is there.

Here’s the story of where this hit me this week:

In the same post as the closet adventure, I discussed the birth certificate debacle. Long story short, I needed to get a copy of my birth certificate for my marriage license, and I was annoyed that my mother lost it. So, instead of waiting for her to fix her mistake and get me a new copy (can you sense my anger here?!?), I decided to drive the 45 minutes to Town Hall to get another one myself. I was heading to the other end of Long Island to return something to Crate and Barrel (the only C&B on Long Island), so it was sort of on the way. As I Mapquested the best route from A to B, I realized it took me the scenic route. I don’t know if it was the shortest route, but it was definitely not the fastest. But I had the time, so I decided to take it.

Well, it was snowing on that day (not that that is unusual these days!). It was my favorite kind of snow – enough to be pretty but not enough to be overly dangerous or ruin plans or make me shovel. And as I was driving this route, it was one of the most amazing, scenic experiences I ever had. Through the trees and by the water and over these hills… absolutely breathtaking. I felt like I was in the middle of a black and white picture of this snowy universe that was familiar but brand new at the same time – unlike anything I had seen before. And I am not exaggerating.

And then I realized that if my mom hadn’t lost my birth certificate, I wouldn’t be driving this. I just would have taken the expressway to C&B. I had been looking at the negative space – what wasn’t right, what was annoying. But when I really looked and saw the whole of the circumstances, I saw what was there - the beauty of this amazing gift God gave me in that moment.

So, that is one example. And then I realized I do see the negative space in lots of things. Like relationships, for example. After 36 years of a diet of ‘emotional porn,’ as I like to refer to it – don’t get nervous; by that I mean romance movies, novels, etc – it is easy for me to look at the negative space in my relationship with my fiancĂ© – all things he isn’t doing, all the things that aren’t there….

But when I shift my focus to broaden my view to see the whole picture – I see everything he is doing and everything that is there and everything that is going right and all the ways he daily shows me he loves me…

It was there all the time…but I just wasn’t seeing it. I was too focused on the negative space.

And I think that’s what happens when we dissect life and look at it in abstracts pieces and see all the things that aren’t there. But when we back up and take in our lives as a whole, we can use the negative space to highlight and emphasize all we do have and all that is there…the beauty of our lives as a whole…each moment, each experience, each person. There will always be negative space if we choose to look at it. But on the other side of that negative space is the object of beauty, if we just look a little farther.

Just like those weird pictures where they ask if you see an old woman or a young woman.

It’s a bit of a mind-bender and brain shift… a new way of looking at things…a little uncomfortable and awkward at first. It hurts a little.

But if you look hard, you really can find the pretty young woman. It really just depends on where your focus is.

~ Katherine ~
One Girl's Journey To The Altar


  1. Thank you God. He led me here today to read your post Kati because that last part got me. The irony. Your words in this post are how I live. And I don't mean this in a tooting my own horn sort of way, just merely trying to explain myself. I have always seen things differently than the people around me. I'm very exestential & have had long periods of suffering from exestential angst. I see the world in ways that a lot of other people in the world will never see. I explain this because what you said at the end made me 'smile out loud' (a smile with awe) - my dad brought that picture of the old lady/beautiful lady home when I was a kid. I could NEVER see the point. Everytime I looked at the photo I could only see both of them. I was never able to see only one or the other. I remember taking it to school in junior high & everyone could only see the old lady. I just thought it was ironic that you mentioned that in your post. Everything you said is OH SO TRUE. I wish more people could see the whole picture & not just the negative space. Miss talking with ya! I've been on/off & the dog bit through my computer cord so I'm having to hop on hubby's while he's at work!! Eek! one more day of the puppy!!!

  2. Oh and you gained Inspired Dreamer a new follower. what a great site! =)

  3. That guest blogging sounds great. If I ever stop whining about my problems and break out of my self centred little world I'll call you

  4. Wow, fantastic post! Very inspiring!

  5. I love this--what a great example of where our focus should be! Thanks for this :)

  6. Loved this. It can be so difficult to look at things from different perspectives. It's too easy to see what catches our eye immediately and then ignore the rest. Thanks for making me think! And thanks for visiting my blog too.


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