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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Respective of perspective

Sometimes we look at a beautiful painting and our gut tells us that something doesn't feel right. we can't put our finger on it but somehow we instinctively feel that some part of it is wrong, unbelievable or just plain disturbing.  Usually for me this has to do with perspective. 

I won't even pretend to offer a lesson on perspective but lets just say that if you choose to paint buildings anywhere, let alone the winding, layered streets of Venice, you must understand linear perspective!  
See how all these buildings seem to come to a point where they disappear into a tunnel? (Disregard the building that goes across that tunnel.) Replicating that convincingly is drawing perspective.  And take note how these buildings also meander along the sidewalk at all kinds of angles.That is Venetian perspective!  If these alleys and tunnels were all perpendicular it would be rather simple to take a ruler and make them all start and begin together...not simple really, but way easier than trying to show them as they actually are.
Here is an easy example.  Notice how the aqueduct goes off into the distance?  If you were to trace the top and bottom lines they would come together at what's called a "vanishing point."  Now go back to the photo of the square and see how many vanishing points there are to deal with....
Here the side walk starts out broad and gets smaller the farther away from us it goes.  Now look at the buildings which do the same thing, or would if my umbrella didn't block them!  Only now we have a canal between the sidewalk and the buildings and none of the three maintain the same width all along, they curve and jut in and out at different widths.  Get my perspective?

This was a huge challenge while painting in Venice; in order to depict the reality ( which is the novelty of the city) one had to really get a grip on where the lines were going.  Otherwise they would not appear true and viewers would get a huge "no, no, no" signal.  One must find the horizon which stays more or less even and decide what goes towards it and what goes away from it...and at what angle!
So this morning as I painted I warmed up with a fairly straight on disappearing walkways, just overlapping buildings and tents in the distance.  We call that "atmospheric perspective."  (But that's a blog for another day! Hint: the two roofs should not be the same value if there is distance between them.)

And yes, these paintings all need a bit of tweaking before I call them done but I just thought I'd share a little bit more on what makes painting on site so interesting and soooo darn challenging.  Next time your gut tells you something just isn't right, check and see if the horizon line stays stable while the rest has a perspective that supports it.  And if it doesn't, please get someone else to explain it to you!  I'm still scratching my head over the views I've chosen to replicate.  I have a new respect for perspective.


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