Workshop #3: “Drawing Empty Spaces: Exploring Spatial Representation through Absences


The students were challenged to go on a journey of spatial comprehension through the figure/background relationship. They delve into the representation of diagrammatic spatial structures, exploring the intricate interplay between forms and their surrounding space. With an introduction to essential representation tools, they navigate the nuances of expressing spatial concepts. Additionally, the students learn to adapt drawing tools to the intricacies of the represented space. This educational experience cultivates a profound understanding of spatial relationships, honing conceptual and practical skills in design and representation.

This workshop was divided into two parts: the first with a demonstration by the teacher and the second part with the students drawing in an outside space and applying the concepts presented.



  • The understanding of space through the figure/background relationship.
  • Representation of diagrammatic spatial structures.
  • Introduction to representation tools.
  • Adaptation of the drawing tools to the represented space.

The goal of this demo was to estrange students from their 'natural' drawing mode—depicting tangible objects—and instead, challenge them to envision the background as a valid subject for drawing. Beginning with the classroom wall as an example, the teacher filled the space in the drawing paper corresponding to the back wall using charcoal. Using this drawing as a first layer, and adding tracing paper over it, the teacher used felt-tip pens to draw the objects hanging on the wall.


Fig.3.1. Teacher making a demonstration of the use of the proposed techniques.

In the second part of the workshop, the students went to a corridor in the Faculty that enabled them to see the outside buildings, that is, presenting them with structures/foreground and the sky/background, and were asked to apply the learned techniques presented in the demo.


Fig.3.2. Student drawing the “background space” using charcoal.


Fig.3.3. Students draw over tracing paper of the foreground objects using felt-tip pens.


Fig.3.4. Example of a drawing produced by one of the students (Martina Sottile)