Monday, May 25

Using Perspective in Painting and Drawing

Today’s Image
The Inn
Acrylic on Canvas
Copyrightf 2008

Today's OrbisPlanis art blog is on perspective in drawing and painting. Today's Image is an acrylic painting of mine in which persepective was a major element.

As an artist or painter, what gives you the most trouble when you’re in the midst of creating your art? For many it’s rendering the proper perspective of objects in your composition. Of course, this may or may not be important to you depending on the type, style, and genre of your painting or drawing.

Do you think Picasso had perfect perspective in mind in his many paintings of women and other subjects? I don’t think so either.

However, for those who want some semblance of realism in their art, perspective is very important. I’m not talking about the kind of perspective such as your viewpoint on the importance of Impressionism (for example) in today’s art world.

No, I’m talking about the use of real perspective that gives depth to your artwork. When you use perspective in your art, you mimic what your eyes see. It’s an illusion that allows you to replicate, more or less, the three-dimensional onto a two-dimensional surface.

It’s a very important element in your composition. When it’s rendered properly, it provides balance and realism. When it’s not, it can ruin a drawing or painting by skewing the proportions of your subject. And if that's the case, it just doesn’t look right and never will.

Although they’re understandable, the concepts of perspective are numerous and require some level of study--much more than can be covered in this blog. I think it also helps if you’re good in geometry and geometric concepts

A good resource is Mastering Perspective for Beginners by Santiago Arcas, Jose Arcas, and Isabel Gonzalez. It is an easy-to-understand text on the subject that gives you an historical background and takes you from the simplest concepts to the most advanced, such as periodic repetitions, and also covers perspective in stairs, inclined planes, shadows, and reflections. It also includes numerous exercises and really good diagrams that help you put into practice what’s discussed.

Two simple concepts of perspective are: 1) objects farther away from the viewer appear smaller than those up close and 2) parallel lines appear to converge at a point on the horizon. The latter is also called the vanishing point, which may be on the horizon line or beyond.

Without going into detail, here are some other basics that are covered:

- Visual field and viewpoint
- Ground plane
- Picture plane
- Ground line
- Line of sight

When you’re finished, you’ll be able to render perspective in your artwork with confidence. You’ll also have a ready reference whenever you need to double check your drawings.

Here’s a hint—practice may not make perfect, but it will put your artwork in the proper perspective!


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