Saturday, July 22, 2017

Another look at Perspective

Drawing in Real Perspective by Xavier Bolot.        Perspective is often a challenge for an artist so I approached this book with a great deal of interest. However, I found the book rather over-whelming as it is a very verbal explanation for solving a visual problem. I haven't thought about trigonometry since high-school so I found wading through pages of mathematical explanations a bit heavy going. Ultimately, the explanations make sense and the figure drawings offer worthwhile guidance.
     The Greeks used curvilinear perspective. A temple viewed from a distance is seen as straight, friezes on a column appear to be the same height when seen from the ground because curves characteristic of our natural vision perception have been utilized.
      Linear perspective was developed in the Renaissance but it doesn't work for very wide landscapes or for close-ups with models. One section shows some errors of the "old masters". Mantegna's "Dead Christ" looks strange because the foreshortened proportions are all false. Caravaggio's painting of a man with outstretched arms in "Pilgrims of Emmaus" has the hands all wrong. The left hand is closer to the viewer and is acceptable as is - but the right hand- extended away- has been painted the same size and so looks enormous. Curving guidelines are very much needed to check on model proportions. I found this section the most interesting and worthwhile.
     I found this book thought-provoking about perspective but I also concluded that drawing what you actually see, applying the principles intuitively, while being aware of common errors is the most helpful advice. I can see myself looking carefully at angles and proportions but not getting too mathematical about it. This was worthwhile reading.

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