What problems did you find in executing perspective drawings?
I found that one of the main problems was an apparent inability to see the slope of an angle correctly, this was very apparent when looking at angles indoors, the slope of the angle was often much sharper than I was seeing, and outdoors I was repeatedly caught out by how steep roof angles were etc. I increasingly realised that I could not trust what I thought I was seeing. Using the rules of perspective single point perspective became more straightforward but I continually struggled with two or multiple point perspective. Here most of the vanishing points are off the paper and I found them extremely hard to visualise and follow the receding lines to accurately in my mind. Another thing I found difficult was establishing exactly where my eye level was, something which sounds a bit silly to write as you would think it would be obvious and easy, but I repeatedly found this difficult to gauge accurately, and the fact that any change in position or head angle, changes this, added to the difficulty. In the end I found a rather inelegant solution to establishing eye level (definitely something to do when nobody is looking) by rolling a horizontal pencil up and down the bridge of my nose so that I could see the same point at which the top and bottom passed through my eye level, which pinpointed eye level. (I am sure that there is an easier way of doing this but this worked for me). I also found it difficult to gauge visually just how much narrower shapes became as they receded. Visually to me there may have appeared to be little difference but on measuring with an outstretch pencil I could then see that actually they were much narrower. It proved that checking measurements was important. For many of these problems it actually proved to be helpful to draw a more complicated scene than an individual building because there were then more clues by the proximity of other shapes, more things to compare what I was seeing to, and therefore more chance to understand the difference between what I thought I was seeing to what I was actually seeing. Having, though, found that I couldn’t really trust my eyes, it meant that I found that I was concentrating so hard on trying to understand and record accurately what I was seeing, that I found it hard to also think about other things such as line strength, texture etc. This has meant that the drawings are very stilted and tight (even more so than normal for me) and it felt that I had taken a step backwards with my drawing.
The good thing is that most of these problems will resolve, I think, with more practice. I have very little experience of drawing buildings so the more I can manage to draw them, gradually understanding more and more how to use perspective, then the more natural it will become (hopefully).
Make notes on the merits of using, or not using, rulers to guide you?
I purposefully haven’t used rulers during the exercises, except at the end to check the accuracy of the perspective lines. The instructions appeared to suggest not using rulers. The use of a ruler would have helped to check that my vertical lines were actually straight, as repeatedly I got to the end of the exercise without realising that they were not. A ruler would also give a greater length than an outstretched pencil to understand how elements link together and intersect.
I have found three books helpful for this part of the course and will be ones that I will need to return to again as I draw more complicated buildings.
Arcas, Santiago and others, Mastering Perspective for Beginners, Atrium Group, 2003
Metzger, Phil, Perspective Without Pain, North Light Books, 1992
Shearer, Janet, The Artist’s Guide to Perspective, New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd, 2003
We were also asked to copy a simplified version of Rome by Sir Muirhead Bone into our sketchbooks and I used a ruler while doing this, as I thought it would be interesting to see the difference it made to the drawing, A4 sketchbook 2. (I have not shown the drawing here as I am not sure on the copyright issues involved in that). Using a ruler would increase accuracy without a doubt, but it also is easy to then make a very mechanical drawing. It was interesting to see how many of the lines went accurately to the vanishing point, but not all, most noticeably the line for the bottom of the buildings which goes to a completely different vanishing point in comparison to the roof lines and windows. Yet the drawing looks completely correct. I tried drawing in the bottom of the buildings to (in theory the correct perspective) to see the difference that it made. It had the effect of lessening the feeling of depth and distance so perhaps this is why Sir Muirhead Bone exaggerated the perspective. Two of the roofs that had overhangs also did not follow the perspective line exactly. I am not sure if this is due to the angle of view for the artist but clearly was a purposeful alteration from line. Though the drawing has been done with a very clear idea of where the vanishing point was (which occurs off the paper) it is not a mechanical drawing. It is sensitively drawn with a great sense of aerial perspective and the perspective lines are not followed mechanically.