The rose windows of the great European cathedrals are a fantastic example of artworks in which both the positive and negative spaces of the work play equally important visual roles. We spend some time learning about this particular aspect of the art element of space (and the cathedrals themselves with the aid of Google Earth) before creating our own rose windows.
North Rose Window, Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France
West Rose Windows, HES Cafeteria,
Hillsborough, North Carolina:)
Using a paper plate and a white colored pencil, students first trace a circle onto a piece of black bulletin board paper. (I use the bulletin board paper because it's thin enough, even after folding into several layers, for the students to cut). After cutting out their black circles, students fold the paper in half, then twice more until they have a small "pizza slice" shaped piece. This is great folding practice, especially since it's important that edges are well aligned. Then students carefully cut out pieces of their folded paper, before opening it to reveal the design of their window "frame." We also refer to this as the "positive" space of their artwork. In the next session, the students glue a piece of wax paper to the back of their window frame and then glue various pieces of colored tissue paper "glass" to the wax paper to add color to all the spaces in the frame. These are the "negative" spaces of the artwork. After the excess wax paper is cut away, the results are beautiful!