Artistic Perspective

Outdoor Watercolors - Perspective

Most beginners seem to have difficulty seeing things in perspective. At least it seems to be the area where most drawings go terribly wrong. So let's deal with it.
Good books teach perspective mathematically and geometrically. One of my sons, who is an architect, gave me a book on the subject which enables one to construct complex structures in perfect perspective. I cannot understand most of it.
There are simpler books for artists and I recommend finding one if you truly wish to pursue the subject seriously. Most of them start with the important "two point perspective," which shows how receding lines intersect at the horizon. I understand that, but I seem to have little success teaching it to other people. So I stumbled upon an easier method for the casual sketcher which is very practical to use.
Cut yourself a nice little mat frame out of cardboard with seven inch by ten inch outside dimensions which can be conveniently carried inside your watercolor block. Mark it according to the illustration below. Also cut yourself a simple cardboard strip to go with it. If you wish, mark it with a graduated scale, which can help you in determining the relative proportion of objects you are

Use the frame to pick and compose your subject. But also use it as a perspective device. Hold the frame perfectly horizontal and view your subject through it. Then place your cardboard strip over it to exactly match the angle of the roofline or other item in perspective. Hold the strip firmly to the frame and move it down to your paper---and draw a line along the edge of the cardboard strip. This will exactly (if you have done it right) duplicate the perspective line of the object you are sketching. It sounds complex, perhaps, but it is terribly easy once you get the hang of it. Study the illustration below. With this simple device---and a little care---you can't go wrong in drawing in perspective.



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