Perspective is a word that gives some artists panic attacks.
It can be daunting but there is a way to try and make it a little easier. As a general rule of thumb you can try and think that everything that is above your eye level will come down and everything below your eye level will come up.
Just imagine looking down a railway line it will always go to a point, which is known as the vanishing point. Everything has one. If you look up at the sky and away into the distance you will see that it gets lighter, that is perspective too but with colour and tone. Perspective does not just apply to a solid object it also applies to everything else that we can see. It is vital at this stage that you do not dwell on this too much. Also if you try and choose your subject with care, lots of open landscapes that do not offer a big challenge, are a better idea in the beginning.
To deal with perspective we need a few basic ground rules to follow. The first thing to remember is that perspective is determined by our eye level.
As we are all of differing heights there can be no fixed measurement for us to follow, so what we need are a few guidelines that do apply to us all.
If you are 6 feet tall and standing on level ground then it seems to me that eye level is about 5 feet 9 inches. Looking at a row of houses try and imagine standing by the front door which is 6 feet 9 inches high on average. See image above.
Now in your minds eye draw a line that stretches across the row of houses that corresponds with your 5feet 9inches eye level. That is a method that I use all of the time and you will be amazed at how accurate it is.
So, if the road is level try and imagine your eyeline running into the distance as far away as you can, now think of the road surface itself, it is going upwards toward your eyeline, likewise the roof line, window line, are all coming down toward your eye-line. You then need to establish a vanishing point that is the point where all lines above and all lines below converge.
You will see that there is also a vanishing point going the ‘other way’ as well, the left hand side of the image.
But the other eye level, the point that the lines meet, is out of sight, you need to remember that it is there though or else the painting will look ‘wrong’.
When I take the same view and apply layers of Payne’s grey in washes, the same way that I did the view in ‘tonal value’, you can see how just the paint has created perspective on its own. It is no different than the linear perspective; it is just that I have combined the two, linear and tonal, to achieve the desired effect.
Very often you may wonder why we need colour. Well the answer is we don’t, not all of the time anyway but to produce a nice painting that is life like is a great feeling, and without the use of colour it would not look very exiting.
The use of tone value though is vital in the learning process, once this is understood it can only get easier.
Now we have the same drawing with colour applied, this first image is showing my first washes, the second image shows the result of my second washes.
I have seen some beautiful paintings that have had little colour used in their creation. I suppose I am back to the beginning where I said that if the composition is good and the content is balanced the result could be very appealing.
Like I said we don’t ‘need’ colour, but it does look more appealing don’t you think!