Saturday, 23 October 2010

Painting in Three Dimensions - Books in perspective

Project 1 was all about drawing boxes in perspective. The most trouble I had with this exercise was fitting in the horizon. I had to redraw the whole thing several times because I underestimated the distance up to eye level. I tried going to a lower view point but all the planes I was drawing just got too small and flattened. So I just had to have a very small drawing in the end. I won't bore you with the result here.
But the exercise was valid anyway. It's very hard to be absolutely accurate with the converging lines, especially since I do have two eyes, but I got close enough.

What have I achieved?

The exercise itself is one I have done many times before. If I draw something and the objects don’t sit quite right I like to establish and draw or imagine the perspective lines and the vanishing points.
This time however, the subject was different to any drawings I normally check for perspective. All the objects were up close, and that makes all the difference.

I pondered why this was. The course book mentions the fact that our brains modify what we see for it to make sense in the everyday world. I had never tried the two hands experiment before, and that was quite a revelation, but I have noticed the same phenomenon work on the moon. 
From Wikipedia

The moon for us is a constant distance away, but when it gets close to the horizon, what we instinctively know about perspective kicks in. Our brain now computes the information about the moon’s size in relation to everything on earth and suddenly it appears huge. First time I noticed this as a kid I thought the moon might be about to collide with the earth so big did it occur to be.

Anyway, when I viewed my books in front of me trying to note the converging lines, it was that much harder to get accurate because I have two eyes and see two versions of the lines. Logically I told myself that this just means that I draw something in the middle; that it is the average line I am trying to see.
But that’s not how it works at all. My eyes see both versions and the brain then works to interpret that into a unified vision. But for things up close, where the difference in viewpoint for the eyes are much greater, what we really see is a three dimensional version of the world. We don’t see the flat perspective, we see “around” the objects close up.
If I place one book so that one eye can just see the end plane and the other cannot, then logic tells me the plane shouldn’t be visible in my perspective drawing. But it is when I look at the book “live”.

This must be why drawing from life is better than drawing from photos. To be honest, I suspected that artists saying that were displaying some snobbish inclination like when some teachers insist that using a drawing grid or smudging with a finger to get a more even shade is ‘cheating’ - Yes, I’ve had some great teachers along the way :o)
When drawing from life we can get a hint of that extra dimension in there, which is already lost in a photograph. I think this makes the experience of seeing the drawing come ever so slightly closer to seeing the real object, and this is what gives us the feeling that a drawing is alive and objects seem to leap out at us.

Now I just need to figure out what it is we see and add in a drawing which isn’t present in a photograph. Is it that line of light that runs around the contour of the apple that should be in shadow? Rim light? Does the drop shadow grow slightly larger and hug the base of the apple as a result? It will be fun to find out.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

More drawings

Tonal and not so tonal.
Magnolias, I think? Drawn from my own photo.

From photos found on Flickr.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Studies for new Still Life

I wanted to try another still life, this time with a more obvious and warm light source. Haven't started it yet, work is mad at the moment, but here's a few sketches.
I've been trying to get more volume into my drawings.

Oh, and I made a start on a little sketch study of van Gogh's Chair.

It's not easy to emulate oil with acrylics, but it's good fun anyway.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Project 3.2: Painting Objects in an interior.

Stage 4: What have you achieved?
Fairly happy with the result. And not a little surprised, I have to say. Immediate descriptive words that come to mind are solemn, muted, and strong. The jug remains the main focus as I wanted. I think it was a good decision to mute the blue fabric and it now provides a nice backdrop which isn’t overpowering despite the dark value.
I made some last minute adjustments to the shadows on the jug with a dark transparent blue. Bad technique and the result is rather clumsy, but it needed something extra to appear less flat – a problem I have all too often.
There are a few problems with the perspective and accuracy which I feel I could have done better. I had at first the painting mounted higher on my easel than eye height. I put it there to have more brush control, but the fact that I was looking up at a motive that is seen from above muddled my sense of perspective. When I realised this, I moved the painting down, which made it easier to spot perspective mistakes, but harder to be accurate on the tins as I was leaning down to paint them. Made quite a few bad mistakes with a jittering brush that I had to correct afterwards. Some of them are still present, but I decided to leave it. Any more small corrections and the painting is going to die. I will look into getting a more adjustable easel or some kind of kneeling pad.
I should have known the angle and height was important. I make the same mistake when drawing sometimes. I hold the pad on my knee in a flatter angle than it should be and the drawings come out elongated and have to be corrected in Photoshop to look right.
One of my knee drawings...

It’s not like me to end up with something solemn. I was trying to keep the colour theory in mind and carefully kept to one half of the spectrum, yellow-orange to blue, with only a hint of red to keep the painting harmonious. The cloth helped me there, as all the shadows has some of the reflected colour of that blue, helping the whole piece come together.

The poor orange looks like it’s dying :oD