Space: The Final Frontier

Nature and I abhor a vacuum. I tend to fill up every bit of space with pattern and color.

But I am often drawn to art that has room to breathe in it, like this 1958 snowstorm by Selina Chonz. The space allows you to appreciate the patterns.

This next illustration was done by Lotte Schmiel in 1935. The background floats into the shapes; she allows your imagination to complete the edges of the objects.

As does Margaret (Chodos-Irvine) in this illustration for Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet Wong. Your eye creates the edge of the tee-shirts and also connects the shirts from stripe to stripe.

Lizbeth Zwerger is a master of space. Her composition pulls your eye around the painting. All of the space allows you to notice the grace and perfection of her lines.










For a while I was taking piano lessons. My friend and teacher, Julan Chu, told me that I needed to pay attention to the rests as well as to the notes. Lately I’ve been trying to leave some rest for the eyes in my paintings, at least some of the time. This image is from my book Apple Cake, coming next fall.

The images I’ve posted here all share the quality of spaciousness. There is also a secret sub-theme. Can you guess it?


P.S. For those of you in Seattle, there are some upcoming events I would like to tell you about. We have added an Events page to this blog where you can find out about the launch party for Mooshka and other exciting activities to come.

5 responses to “Space: The Final Frontier

  1. I love this post! We’ve always adored Lizbeth Zwerger. You’re new work is gorgeous, Julie! My art teacher was just saying that there is an old adage the when you draw flowers or trees, you should always allow enough room for a bird to fly through. I liked that.

  2. Martha Calderaro

    Hi Julie! While I absolutely love your “space-filled” illustrations, these newer pieces are really cool. To my eye, there’s a sense of momentum and reach that comes across in the first, and a kind of peaceful suspension in the second. I like your bird motif, too — the bird perched on the man, and the man’s own bird-like shape; the birds within the woman’s dress, and the birdishness of the dress form.
    Hope you’re well! Wish I were in Seattle to go to one of your events!

  3. beautiful new work

  4. Is the sub-theme . . . stripes? Three of my favorite illustrators here: you, Margaret, and Lizbeth Zwerger!!!

  5. Beautiful new work. I know what you mean about wanting to fill up space. I’m always envious of artists that use it well.

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