T.C.S. – White Space

Each module keeps getting better. Moving into the hard issues, which no book can give you answers to.

This week’s module touched on something close to my heart: white space.

“Some might argue that passive whitespace is the unconsidered space present within a composition. I disagree: if you don’t consider all your whitespace, that’s just bad design. Passive whitespace creates breathing room and balance. It’s important.” – Whitespace, Mark Boulton

In my kind of work, white space is a real consideration. It’s a tangible aspect of all the live recordings, graphic templating and infographic designs…

Everyday, the wonderful solitude I enjoy as well as precious conversations with God (especially the silences!) – these are delightful white spaces in otherwise breathless monotony/madness…

Taking off to faraway lands in order to be awed by how I can’t see the end of the fields or full expanse of the waters – that’s white space too…

In the bigger scheme of things, this year-out from work can be considered white space as well. Setting up boundary lines so that the body, mind, heart and soul can rest. Breathing room and balance in the composition of a life. A design choice that allows the authentic self to emerge.


First encountered the concept of whitespace (or “negative space”) last year in a class held in a secluded location which I now hold very dear to my heart. It was a well known drawing class – no, I’m not sure it should be called a drawing class; it was so much more. It taught us how to sketch with pencils/graphite. But the basis of the class was a deeper truth: the problem isn’t with drawing; it’s with seeing.

I should guessed from the get-go that I would be taking away more than sketching techniques.

By the end of the 5-day programme, I’d written down 24 insights that applied to the canvas as much as they applied to how I might live my life and make decisions. Embarrassed to say that once I went back to my then-new office, I forgot about most of them. Didn’t apply them until I reached the process of being given grace to take the leap and go for a “whitespace” year-out.

Just went to look at that little insights notebook again, and smiled at some of them:

  • Slow down and really see – shapes, sizes, lights, shadows, reflections… note the relationships.
  • Take small pieces at a time; they will build on each other.
  • Pick a good baseline/base unit. Everything else is scaled upon it.
  • When you focus on something, it starts to appear bigger than it actually is.
  • Just make an intelligent estimation; and draw light enough to change.
  • Negative spaces have a place and purpose – they define objects. They are not empty or useless.
  • Draw what your eyes see, even if the mind says, “can’t be!”
  • When straight lines are absent, look for how things line up.
  • Handle curves by breaking them up into several planes.
  • Use a filter to reduce noise, and see the blacks clearly from the whites.
  • Even in the shadows, look for the reflected light.
  • Don’t be too quick to judge/condemn every stroke.
  • Make choices about what to highlight – it depends on your message.



About lilac butterfly

Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. Write. Draw. Colour. Blend. Play. Dream. Cry. Reflect. Pray. Sing. Worship. Bake. Cook. Rest. Give thanks.

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