Seeing Space in Nature—Seeing God in Space

Space Collection
Over the last several weeks I have been sharing with you the spiritual insights that have occurred to me as I have taught my art students to see the seven design elements as part of God’s creation.

When God created the visible world and declared that it was very good, He did so using line, shape, form, value, texture, space, and color. Visually, everything that He created is a compilation of those elements and each element reveals aspects of His invisible truths.

This week we are going to discuss the element of SPACE which has two definitions.

First, SPACE may refer to the surface area of the canvas or paper. It asks the question, “How do the four quadrants of the piece work together?” Are the upper, lower, left and right sides all contributing to the piece in an important way? In the picture of the apples above the apples have been arranged so that they use the entire surface very well. Both the positive and negative areas are interesting and the curved line ties it altogether in a harmonious way.

Second, SPACE may refer to the optical illusion of depth on a flat surface. This is a real mystery. The three landscapes above are each on some flat piece of paper or canvas, but they effectively create the feeling that we are looking into the distance. Capturing realism (the way things look in real life) will always require the artist to learn to untangle this mystery—creating a sense of depth on a flat surface.

It is beyond the scope of this post to teach how to do that, but we can discover some spiritual insights by thinking about how we see depth. Notice that as things go further away from you, deeper into space, they appear to get smaller. In art we have to actually make them smaller. The trees in the distance and the third apple segment are good examples. Also, parallel lines seem to come closer together. Notice how the sides of the road and the sides of the creek meandering through the forest seem to get closer together as they go further away. Eventually those parallel lines would come together into a single dot on the horizon line and all the trees and all other objects would get smaller and smaller until they ceased to be visible at all. However, you would know that the objects didn’t cease to exist—you just can’t see them anymore. We know that if we were to move down that path or follow the creek into the forest they would continue until they morphed into some other river or highway. Likewise, there will be new trees or some other reality when we move into the scene.

This is so obvious when you look off into the distance you don’t give it much thought, but when the artist skillfully captures it, it always seems to evoke a certain mystery. One wonders, “What does lie beyond the horizon?” Therein lays the spiritual insight. We know that SOMETHING lies beyond what we can see. We discover here that our walk on earth is a walk of FAITH. Our sight is limited, but reality continues on beyond our sight.

Next week we will be looking at the last element . . . the element of color.

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