San Francisco, California, August - September, 1987



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.



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             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 straight ahead.




            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 both directions.




           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!  Get it?

            "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.



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