Putting Things in Perspective

There are times in every life when we have to stop, step back a bit, and take a look at who we are, where we are, and what we’re doing. With my husband approaching retirement (probably within the next two years), there’s been a lot of that stepping back and looking at life going on around our home. Of course, moving from our old house to a new home — new to us — has also meant looking at many things from new perspectives.

Now,  as I set up my new studio and get back to painting, my dear friend — through his art instruction book — Mr. Arnold Fletcher, has been quick to step back in with more talk about perspectives. Painting flowers was a pleasant break, and indeed, I had fun playing with portraits, but now, he tells me, it’s time to get back down to those important lessons about point of view.

So, for me, it’s quite literally been back to the drawing board, back to pencil and paper, back to rulers and protractors, and needless to say, I haven’t been having a lot of fun with it. But one thing I can say on a more positive note is that, yes, it’s getting a little easier. I have a better understanding of what perspective is all about — both in art and in life.

Perspective is such an important aspect of good art that we simply must confront it. It’s imperative that we learn the natural laws which govern perspective. We may eventually turn away from proper perspective and choose to paint in a more primitive style, but even so, it’s good for us to know the rules.

And so it is that I’ve dutifully studied perspective at many different points in my artistic journey.  Soon after I started learning to draw, the monster reared its ugly head. Oh, how I struggled with it!  Perspective definitely got the best of me in those earliest days.  But I kept at it. Improvement came, but it wasn’t easy.

I read several books on perspective. I challenged myself with lots of drawings using single-point and two-point perspective. I even read about three-point perspective. Whew! That’s getting way over my head.

Despite all my frustrations, however, I know it’s important for me to come to terms with perspective, so I’ve been following along with Fletcher’s exercises — which, he assures me, will soon lead to an actual painting. I think I’d rather go back to painting flowers and talking about color schemes, but… all right, so that’s not an option.

Back to putting things into the proper perspective.

Fletcher (2)
A simple perspective drawing from Fletcher’s exercise

Not a good photo and not a very good drawing, but it follows the basic principles of establishing viewpoints, understanding the angles, and remembering to keep upright lines upright.

I followed a similar procedure quite some time ago — on a much larger canvas — when I worked on this perspective exercise:

painted-building
Perspective drawing done in August 2018

I thought I later completed painting this building, but no, I never did. Maybe that would be a good project to work on one day soon.

All in all, I do have a working knowledge of perspective. It’s still a challenge for me to use it in drawing and painting, but it’s getting easier. I was proud of the old barn I painted recently. After completing it, I have a bit more confidence in my abilities.

When it comes to perspective, it’s definitely true that sometimes it helps to change it a bit. That’s excellent advice for times when we’re feeling stuck in life or when life suddenly seems to be changing all around us, and we’re not quite sure how to keep up.

For me, I’m realizing now how true it is in art, as well. I could go on whining and crying about perspective. I could keep throwing books across the room — actually I only did that once, and I didn’t really throw it too far — or I could just change my perspective a bit, admit that I do understand it, I can use it, and I can work mostly on developing a little more patience when it comes to perspective. That’s my real problem, you see.

Maybe I can even find ways to have a little fun with perspective… or, well, gee, I don’t know about that. Maybe that’s going a little too far. I guess, for me, perspective will never be fun and it will probably never be easy. But it is do-able. Even though I don’t plan to include too many buildings or other man-made structures in my landscapes, perspective is still part of nature itself. To be a good landscape artist, I have to accept that fact.

Yes, Mr. Fletcher, I can do this exercise. Yes, I will do my best. Yes, at the end of your lesson I’ll end up with a painting of some sort. Good, bad, ugly, whatever. I’ll do it, Mr. Fletcher.

Check back tomorrow to see the finished painting!

9 Comments

    1. I’ve learned that I actually can work with perspective — simple perspective — if I take my time and exercise a bit of patience. It’s still not one of my favorite things to do though. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hear, hear! I’m in awe of those urban sketchers that can draw a bustling city scene with just a few lines here and there. But I also find that, when we focus too much on getting perspective right, it can look über-corrected, especially in a landscape painting that includes a man-made object.

    Liked by 1 person

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