Drawing negative space, in art class lingo, is about seeing the space between objects as having the same dimensions and depth as the objects themselves.
When you draw this, it often looks strange. Like a bunch of disconnected shapes.
It's a good exercise because it trains your creative mind to see all that's happening in front of you and recognize that all of it is useful to capturing your subject.
The relationship between mass and space is valuable outside of art too. I was thinking about it after my morning run.
Normally I consider the stretching I do afterwards something that happens between two other activities—for instance, exercise and working. It's necessary but doesn't require a lot of thought. In fact sometimes it feels like stretching gets in the way of me getting to the thing I need to do next.
This morning I realized that having that time to focus solely on my muscles and breath is similar to drawing negative space. It is the moment when I am doing 'nothing'—when I allow myself to experience and appreciate the space between other things in my life—that my life takes full shape.
Seeing the negative space—the time between activities—as having the same value as the activities themselves, allows me to enjoy my entire day. I am what I do and the space in between.
So, how to put this into practice? Much the same as the art class assignment. When looking at your calendar, try seeing what's not there. What are the spaces between planned events?
What would today's calendar entry look like if you only listed the time between activities instead of the activities themselves? How would it change how you view your time?