Back to my Creative Drawing course book this week and the topic is Atmospheric or aerial Perspective. This is how spatial illusions are created by controlling the sharpness and relative contrast of receding forms in a drawing (Smagula - Creative Drawing). Foreground shapes are sharper than the shapes in the background and far distance. Fairly logical concept. Albrecht Durer's Rocky Landscape (1495) on the right shows a good example of the technique by rendering his foreground rocks in a detailed, sharp manner and background castle less distinct, showing a spatial separation.
My drawing is of the view out my window, showing my neighbours' roofs in the foreground in a more detailed and sharper / darker focus, and the roofs and trees in the receding background less distinct to exaggerate the illusion of depth. If I'd had more time I would have worked more on the foreground roofs to add more detail and shading etc.. but I think the point of the exercise was achieved.
The last part of the chapter on perspective goes on to mention some artists that purposefully use or distort our knowledge of perspective to create imaginative and unpredictable worlds. The most famous being M.C Escher (1898 - 1972), known for creating visual puzzles and using his knowledge of perspective to manipulate and play mind tricks on us. I love mind tricks so he's one of my favourite artists !... Some examples of his best perspective illusions are below, the most famous "Relativity" (1953) with the distorted staircases...
Back to the Creative Drawing course and this week's exercise is all about exploring multiple perspectives by creating a composition with a variety of simultaneous viewpoints. Here my drawing is divided into sections to create a series of small drawings within a drawing. Each section represents a different angle or perspective of the subject (one of my son's LEGO creations).
The inspiration for this exercise comes from an etching by Giambattista Piranesi (1761) (below left) "Diagram of temple construction" where multiple perspectives are presented within a single format. He shows the enlarged construction details in the top and bottom panels. Well... I can't really compare a drawing of LEGO to one of a great temple... but nonetheless I enjoyed this simple exercise - it reminded me of technical drawing activities from school ...
Smagula describes the study of perspective as a systematic method of determining the placement of forms in space. Basically the use of it helps convey three dimensionality on a two dimensional flat surface. It can get a bit technical, but since my aim here on this blog journey was to learn a few more technical skills, I think I can try to manage some of that !
The Creative Drawing textbook by Smagula gives a good historical overview of the use of perspective and I remember learning some of this in my Fine Arts theory course at university many years ago.
An important thing he mentions in terms of the technical application is that the most important element in linear perspective is the establishment of the horizon line or eye level line. The exercises above are one point perspective (left) with one vanishing point (a single point on the horizon where all lines converge), two point perspective (middle) with two vanishing points and three point perspective (right) a lithograph by Charles Sheeler (1926)
The practice of one point perspective was of my hallway where all the parallel lines move away from me and converge at the horizon line or eye level. I was just doing a quick sketch, but looking back, I should have used a ruler to make the lines and angles very accurate.
The two point perspective was from the corner of my dining table. The two vanishing points are at the edges of the triangle corners. I don't think the angles of the table are quite right. This more unusual perspective would take more practise to get right. The three point perspective is shown in an artwork "Delmonico Building" by Charles Sheeler (1926). Its use is required when drawing a tall building from positioned at the base. It has the two horizontal vanishing points as with a two point perspective, as well as the lines converging at the top to form a third vanishing point.
It's all a bit architectural for me.... Next topic is "Multiple Perspectives".. sounds super technical ! am feeling apprehensive...
Sacha Grossel is a practising Visual Artist from Australia.