When you draw what’s in front of you, you’re drawing that particular thing you’re looking at, right? Well, what if, instead of drawing the thing you want to draw, you draw the shapes around it? What happens?
Surprisingly, your drawing turns out more pleasing and often more accurate than if you directly drew the object of interest!
The empty shapes/spaces bordering your subject constitute what is referred to as negative space. Particularly when drawing objects with simple shapes, paying attention to the negative space can result in a drawing or painting that is much more pleasing and harmonious than otherwise.
In these images of a vase, the negative space is colored black and resembles two faces along the sides of the vase:
To see how much of a difference it makes to pay attention to negative space, try drawing the chair, below, two times: the first time, draw the chair directly. The second time, draw the empty spaces/shapes surrounding the chair. You may notice that your second drawing is more pleasing than your first.
Negative space is something to always keep in mind as you draw. Respecting it will make your drawings more accurate, pleasing, and harmonious.