Marina Soria - The Empty Space, Womb of Shape

This class is part of Legacies III.

John Neal Books is not hosting this class.

Please add item LEG2021 to your shopping cart for supply orders for Legacies III classes.

The Empty Space, Womb of Shape

Marina Soria

2-Day Workshop

All Skill Levels Welcome

Lettering • Design • Drawing • Journaling • Painting • Book Arts


Most of the time in Western art the empty space is considered as background or blank space. Something that is spared and must be filled in. Whole libraries have been written about the fear towards the empty space, the white canvas, so how do we start when we have a blank page before us? how do we intervene the white space?

For Eastern art the empty space is the fourth of the principles of the Taoist Rules for Beauty. “Being and not being engender each other. We mold clay to make pottery, but it is in the empty space where the utility of the jug resides, therefore, we should take equally advantage to what it is, just as we recognize the usefulness of what it is not”. Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, XI. The Taoist painters treat the empty space as a positive matter, not as something to be filled in or to spare, but as the origin of form. Considering these rules we will find new ways to work with space, to see the empty space! The balance between the use of positive and negative spaces is key to aesthetic compositions. This workshop will start from an experimental alphabet or a formal one with a personal twist and will work the space issues, trying to accomplish new compositions where space is not the blank portion of the paper. Claude Mediavilla says in his book Calligraphy: “In Eastern compositions space is used in particularly surprising and stimulating ways. The surface is seldom fully occupied and seems to be waiting for our gaze to penetrate it and discover its myriad of possibilities. When we look more closely at the way in which surfaces are apparently left blank” we find that the spaces are in fact far from empty, they are alive, they turn into the womb of shape, they create tension and give way to a broader world of imagination Venture into the world of space and prepare to open your mind to a new way of perception!



List of materials

You will need to bring a couple of your favorite experimental alphabets you could have developed in some other workshop or a formal calligraphy with a personal twist. Remember that we will not create an alphabet but work with the space and composition issues.


  • Some of your favorite tools: ruling pen, cola pen, folded pen, Automatic pens, nibs and any tool you may have used to perform your personal alphabet. (N22, N155, N208, N27, N214)



  • Medium-sized brushes (# in between 3 and 6) and a thin one to draw contours or outline. (BR26)


  • Bottle of Black Sumi (I70) Or 2-3 single tubes of preferably dark color gouaches, the ones you like best, White gouache. (WNG1) (WNG2) (WNG3) (WNG4)


  • Layout paper preferably a thin one so that you may see through. We will do several pieces amongst them a sculpture book so we will need a good quality paper as well. (P32)

You may purchase your paper in the form of a block or separate sheets but if you chose the block, nevertheless you will need two big sheets of paper of around 56 x 76 cm (22”x 30”)

  1. Characteristics of the paper block:

- Watercolor Paper.

Size: 24 x 32 cm (9”x 12”) or A4 or letter.

Weight: 90 lbs or 185g/m2. Underneath 300gs

Color: Natural white or off white.

Surface: medium or smooth texture.

Preferably separate sheets not glued on all four sides or separate them before the class.

  1. If you chose the big sheets you will need four sheets of Arches Text Wove, 120 gsm.

Arches or something alike. Remember Underneath 300gs (PS01, PS104, PS00)


One needle for a simple Japanese binding. Thread, matching the color gouache you have chosen. (S213) (S825)

Awl. (S255) 

Clips to hold paper on place while binding.

A straight edge metallic ruler. (S270, S271)


  • A portable light table would be very useful, if you don't have one you could use a portable easel with a light underneath to be able to trace in a comfortable way. (S752)

  • Pencil , color pencils, eraser. (PL21, PL38, PL05, PL28, PL34, E13)
  • Palette for mixing colors and paper towels; tape. (S679, S817)
  • Scissors
  • Good cutter or Exacto knife (S417, S130)
  • Glue stick (S391)
  • Fiber tip pens for quick writing and contour delineate (M17)
  • Two or three short poems, haikus, quotes or even your own words will do.
  • Depending on your final projects you could need extra paper and supplies. Will be discussed in class
$4.05 $3.15