Elastic and Creative Perspective

posted in: Painting | 5

The Greeks and Romans had the geometry of Euclid to help them develop credible perspective in their painting.  Much of this picture-making knowledge was lost for centuries until Giotto began to try to reconcile the converging angles of architecture to the idea of  more satisfying illusory space.  Later in the Renaissance,  Brunelleschi  brings his engineering talent to the problem and Alberti presents the explanation of single point perspective with a constant eyelevel in his book Della Pittura in 1436.  Any artist worthy of admiration had to know this system. It was mandatory.  By the late 19th century artists like Van Gogh  experimented with the distortion and exaggeration of linear perspective principles in conjunction with exaggerated simultaneous color contrast experiments.  By the mid twentieth century artists like Diebenkorn and Thiebaud further amplified the color contrast, borrowed ideas from earlier cubist work and, found new delights in perspective distortion. Georgia O’Keeffe, Grant Wood, and Thomas Hart Benton were similarly playing with exaggerations in perspective distortion. In my first example I have a photo of the Chama River Valley near Abiquiu which O’Keeffe simplified and vertically exaggerated but, maintained a relationship to the principles of linear perspective.  As her space recedes the landscape diminishes in scale.

example 1. the photo.

example 2. O’Keeffe painting of the same valley.

I have tried the same process of elastic exaggeration of perspective principles and,  simplification of the composition in a scene from Tuscany. In example 3 I have a photo of the setting. In example 4 I have an overlay of my exaggerations on the photo ( see red lines). In example 5 I have the painting.

example 3, photo

example 4, photo with redesign overlay

example 5, painting.

Today we have a sources  that were unavailable to Van Gogh or Diebenkorn;  Photo Shop in our computers can aid  in this exaggeration of perspective. Here’s an example of  horizontally  squeezing an image to create a perspective distortion.

example 6, photo before squeezing.

example 7 after squeezing and more contrast

In the next example you see how I coupled the horizontal squeeze with color contrast and value contrast exaggeration in my painting of a view down the Hudson  while landing at LaGuardia airport.

example 8, the photo.

example 9, the painting.

As I paint I discover new possibilities for perspective and color exaggeration which help deliver an image with a greater sense of theater and movement. In the first example  the painting is monochromatic and a the work of a collaboration with artist Max Dunlop.  As a part of the collaboration process Max began the painting and I continued to work on it as the finisher.  I introduced more color complementary color contrast and more linear perspective exaggeration.

example 1, Our beginning effort.

example 2, after more color contrast  and perspective triggers.

Finally, another  collaborative painting with Max in which the ground plane is more tilted and starts as a more tonal work (example12) . I then apply more color contrast and amplify the linear perspective experience (example 13).

example 12.  before color contrast distortions.

example 13 . As painting appears now.

5 Responses

  1. William Child

    Second to the last image here is so alive and cool and my favorite.

  2. Carrie Mecartney

    Wonderful demonstration of creative ideas. The possibilities are limitless. Very exciting landscapes with impact.

  3. Fredric Neuwirth

    You should have quit in example #11! I like what Georgia O’Keeffe did to the river valley.

    I hope you farwed well & all is OK!

    I wish your response blog had spell check!

  4. Virginia Zelman

    David
    Thank you for keeping me in the loop.
    I have not been painting but seeing these images is inspiring me.
    I really like what squeezing can do to the perspective.
    Virginia

  5. Luz A. Guzman

    I agree with you Mr. Child, number 12 is perfect! Transmits the point besides the “feeling”.

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