From "The Memoirs, Volume Two" -
Then, too, I was doing a few things to
fill my time. I decided to put together a six-week class on
“perspective drawing” and try it out with a few friends at the studio.
I had long been interested in it and had always drawn a lot of
“perspective” in my drawings and scenery, for example. I tied in the
technical aspects of the horizon and grid and such, with a sort of
parallel theme of art history and how artists slowly evolved a sense of
Perspective, up through the great “canal paintings” of Venice, and then
through the deliberate distortion and molding of perspective into modern
and abstract art. Tying the whole thing into a discussion of the
artist’s “vision” of their world and how they see in perspective.
Well, I did a lot of work on it and we
had a good group who all took it seriously; Russell, Jonathan, David and
Joy, Josh and Marilyn, Jeffery and Bermuda and we all had a great time,
as you can imagine.
* * *
Seeing the "grid" around us -
Webster defines a grid as "a network of uniformly spaced horizontal and
perpendicular lines for locating points by means of coordinates."
The grid is made up of parallel lines which extend to infintiy in both
directions and never meet.
So now, what do we do with our grid? Easy! Push it over.
Now we have a useful grid for our drawings. It could be a kitchen
floor or a house.
But now what is happening to our parallel lines? Do they meet?
That's right! They meet at the "vanishing point."
And the oblique lines, which appear to go off in another direction?
They meet "off the paper."
And the points at which they meet now define our "horizon line."
The horizon line is always "straight ahead."
On this earth, whether high up or down low, the horizon line is ALWAYS
In drawing, there are two basic forms of grid. One, below, with
the vanishing point straight ahead, and the parallel cross lines going off in
And two, below, an oblique grid with two vanishing points within the
same view. Further, some drawings can be a combination of the two.
I always liked to use examples from art history to illustrate my points.
Early artists from the Medieval Ages were struggling with perspective,
but didn't have a clue. These rooftops, below, appear flying off
in all directions. Scary!
Early Japanese artist did a little better, but still far away from
representing true "perspective," as we can see in this bathhouse, below.
It wasn't until the Renaissance
that artists, and in particular one, below, Giovanni Antonio Canaletto,
painting the canals of Venice, finally got it! He mastered the art
of perspective drawing and taught us all how it was done.
(TEACHER'S NOTE: Class, do you sometimes have trouble remembering
this artist's name? Here's a simple way to remember it and now
you'll never forget! CANELetto painted the CANALs of Venice!
"Wow! Thanks, Teach!"
Don't mention it.)
And I always liked to use my own drawings as examples of good
perspective drawing (E-hem) like this little sketch of a Mexican "wake"
gathered around a candle-lit coffin, below.
Here the strong central "vanishing point" is right about the head of the
deseased. The few oblique lines meet way off the paper. Note
the floor lines meet even further off, a sort of "false" perspective, as
though the whole house is a bit topsy.
Here in a simple bar/cafe, the few perspective indicators, the two
rafters and a table top, join at the focal charater's head.
Sometimes the effect of perspective results from the most minimal
touches. Can you spot them?
That's right. Here two little lines on the undersides of the eaves
push us into the third dimension.
In my drawing of an empty Jim Jones pavillion, I wanted to imagine him
towering above us on his "throne."
The vanishing points are far down on the paper, giving the impression of
looking up into the thatched ceiling.
Conversely, this sketch for our production of Wolves by Alfred Brust,
appears to look into a dark hole.
Note the strong vanishing point is at the top of the paper and the
oblique lines meet far off and down, tilting our horizen line and "torquing"
our view of this dark, German expressionist drama..
For my design of "Lenz" at the Soho Repertory Theater in New York, I "exploded"
the view of the theater.
The result is an "impossible" view with the vanishing points far off and
above the paper.
Well, we drew a lot in that class and, as I said, always had a good time.
* * *
...NEXT: "PENNIES FROM HEAVEN"