Drawing – The Secret of Trapped Shapes

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If you make a circle with your thumb and forefinger you will find a “trapped” shape.  A “trapped” shape or space is usually found between limbs and background, between overlapping branches of a tree or even between the rungs of a chair. The whites of your eyes are “trapped” shapes as is the space within the handle of a teapot.  In the sketch above you will see the three “trapped” shapes between the boys’ legs.

If you focus on these shapes, you will see them as just a shape and easier to draw than something you already know.  When you draw the shape, you draw the common boundary between the leg and the foot…. to draw one is to draw the other.

Drawing shapes is much easier than drawing things, so drawing “trapped” shapes whenever you find them will give new life to your drawing.  “Trapped” shapes serve as a marker and proportional check to the shape beside it.  It helps to develop the habit of shifting back and forth between drawing objects and trapped shapes. This will lead you to new ways of observing.

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I have drawn the larger shapes first, then focused on the trapped shapes between the boys’ legs.

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By drawing the dark shape of the dress, you also draw a part of the model’s face.

Can you search for the trapped shapes? Can you shift back and forth between them and other objects?  Are you interested in finding new ways of observing?  Treat this as a challenge for your next drawing.


Next time you’re out, try to look for “trapped shapes” – they are everywhere.  I was driving the freeway yesterday and could see a “trapped shape” between the body of the car in front, its wheels, and the road.  I saw another between an overhead bridge, the pillars supporting it and the road.  It is fun to see in new ways.


2 thoughts on “Drawing – The Secret of Trapped Shapes

  1. Pingback: Voids in your reflection… | Sophie Sabina Creations

  2. Pingback: Drawing – Are You Over It? | Zen School for Creative People

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