Pencil sketch, 9×12 (larger)
I studied perspective in college drawing class but didn’t completely understand it, didn’t like it, and thought I had little use for it. Years later my friend Barbara gave me a copy of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. In that wonderful book, the author offers a more “right-brained” way to work with perspective, using a variety of strategies that allow one to see angles and shapes without having to use more “left-brained” techniques like 2-point perspective.
It gave me what I needed to draw well enough to get by, and I came to appreciate my slightly wonky style of drawing. It worked just fine for free-spirited sketches or paintings. When I needed something to be drawn accurately (as the basis for a realistic watercolor, for example), I would either grid it up, trace the enlarged photo onto watercolor paper, or draw/erase/draw/erase first on tracing paper until I got it right and then trace that onto watercolor paper.
I got confused in this one…it has several problems
But plein air painting, which I’ve become passionate about, requires a quick accurate drawing in order to start and finish a painting within 2-3 hours max. After that time the light changes so much that colors, shadows, and anything moving (clouds, creatures, water) are completely different. Starting with a bad drawing dooms the painting right from the start. I needed to go back to basics and get a grip on perspective.
I grabbed Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson, read the section on perspective and started sketching stacked up childrens blocks, stuff in my house, and from my imagination, trying to understand perspective.
Here’s something I didn’t know before: The horizon is always at your eye level. The horizon line (e.g. where the sky meets the land or the sea) is actually what you see when looking straight ahead at your eye level, whether you’re sitting, standing, or lying on the ground. I find that really amazing — it just seems so self-centered, somehow.
(I drew eyeballs on this one to remind me of my point of view/horizon)
A few things still confused me so I did some more research on the web and found two helpful sites with good information. How to Draw and Paint, offers a couple of basic, easy to understand articles about perspective. Ralph Larmann’s Art Studio Chalkboard from the University of Evansville goes into more technical detail and provided answers to the things that were confusing me (like what happens when the object straddles the horizon, or the object is at an angle, like peaked roofs, or the ground is hilly).
I’m going to do some more practicing using what I’ve printed out from those two sites. I also picked up an excellent book from the library: Perspective Drawing by Kenneth Auvil, which is actually fun and interesting reading. Any other suggestions for improving linear perspective drawing would be gratefully accepted.