City Perspectives

posted in: Painting | 5

Merge linear perspective to atmospheric perspective for an emotionally persuasive experience. Why? Because linear perspective’s feeling for measurable depth coupled to atmospheric perspective’s sensation of indefinite space will stimulate an emotion of space, movement and infinity. This brief post plans to demonstrate this.

Consider the diagram in example 1. Here is an eye level line with two vanishing points, one to the left and one to the right. In the following painting examples you will find various demonstrations of this diagram.  Observe that diagonal receding lines above the eye-level line descend to a vanishing point on the right while those below the eye-level line ascend to the same vanishing point on the right.

Example 1. Perspective Diagram.

This two vanishing point system is easily observed in example 2. Example 3 presents the same image after overlaying an obscuring blue atmosphere. Here you can determine if the atmospheric addition offers a stronger emotional mood but with less edge legibility.

Example 2.  Step one, City with two point perspective (Midtown Lexington Corners,36×36).

Example 3. Step two, Same image with obscuring atmosphere overlay.

A more abstracted two vanishing point image can be found in example 4.

Example 4, Abstracting Midtown, 36×36, oil on laminated aluminum.

Example 5 provides the same two point perspective program but uses a series of receding figures to the left vanishing point while most of the architecture recedes to the right vanishing point.

Example 5. Times Square Lovers, oil on aluminum, 18×18.

Example 6 uses the two point vanishing plan more covertly.  The street, cab and many of the buildings appear to all converge to the left vanishing point. Look more closely and observe that the tall buildings have one side receding to the right vanishing point.

Example 6, Speeding Toward Infinity, oil on laminated aluminum, 24×24.

Even more covertly notice how I used the two point system in Examples 7 and 8. The street recedes toward the right vanishing point but, the front of the buses and some buildings recede to the left. I give two examples here to demonstrate how an image subtly changes while working.  In example 7 I felt I over-exaggerated the narrowness of the front of the buses as well as creating too much shadow beneath them. Example 8 addresses those problems and adds further reflectance and atmospheric noise.

Example 7, Midtown Buses, step one, 24×24.

Example 8, Midtown Buses, step two, 24×24.

Landscapes too can rely on the persuasive power of combining linear and atmospheric perspectives. Example 9 demonstrates a mat of reeds and shore grass following vanishing points on the left while the entire image slowly acquires more edge obscuring atmosphere as the space recedes.

Example 9. Shoreline Matrix, oil on laminated aluminum, 24×24.

5 Responses

  1. Michael McBride

    David, your excitement and enthusiasm breaks out from your paintings. I wish I could spend time with you, I’m sure theses qualities as well as your.depth of artistic skills are contagious.

    Miss you on PBS

  2. Ann Wilson

    Thank you, David. I think I now have an inkling of how this works by looking at your paintings and your drawing. I love all your paintings but Example Nine is simply mind blowing. I so appreciate your blog.

  3. Jerry Perlman

    The significance of subtle changes are made quite clear. A very impressive series of city perspectives.

  4. Perspective — always a challenge even for the best of artists and especially for those of use emerging. Thanks for posting this, David.

  5. Lorraine

    Thank you for posting this lesson. As a self taught artist I discovered a scarcity of demonstrative information on perspective through workshops or on-line. As a watercolor landscape artist I am becoming more reliant on gathering instruction from plein air oil artists. The community of watercolor artists in the US seem to focus on studio work that is heavy in to techniques rather than a thought out composition.

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