Positive and negative space works in unison to affect the overall composition of a work of art. Understanding how positive and negative space work will greatly improve your ability to create successful pieces of artwork.
The positive space in a work of art is the area of interest. Usually, the subjects of the artwork are considered to be the positive space.
The negative space is made up of the areas around the subjects, or areas of non-interest. Positive space does not refer to “good” space and negative space does not mean “bad” space. Instead, the artist can manipulate the balance between the positive and negative spaces in an artwork to create emphasis on desired objects or relationships.
An artwork may have a relatively equal amount of positive and negative space. Or, an artwork may have mostly negative space and still be equally successful in its composition. In the same token, an artwork could be made up mostly of positive space, with limited negative space and be equally successful as well.