Exercise 39: Parallel perspective – an interior view
The brief for this exercise was to make a line drawing of the view through a doorway inside a building, checking the angles of all receding lines against the horizontal and vertical lines of the door frame, without using a ruler or a rubber. The configuration of our flat is such that there was only one option that met this criteria, which simplified matters a little.
In order to do the drawing, I stood in the middle of the kitchen looking into the sitting room. As this is an old building, there are very few ‘true’ angles. In this case, the left-hand side of the door frame appeared to tilt outwards at the top, which made it tricky to measure anything against it. I began by establishing eye-level and marking it on the page. I then drew the top horizontal of the doorframe, and worked outwards from there, drawing the side frames, then the bookcase on the left, and then the interior of the sitting room. I was aware that it became trickier to read angles the further away I moved from the eye-level. I used the ‘clock’ method for trying to determine angles (e.g. five past, quarter past, etc.). Having done this, I then took a ruler and drew in (what I believed to be) corrected lines using red biro. As is evident from the picture above, the lines converged at different points on the horizon line (eye-level). It seems obvious now that this should have rung alarm bells, but it took me a while to realise that the idea is that all lines to converge at the same point. The term ‘one-point perspective’ should have been a clue… As it was, I simply thought I was slightly out here and there!
It wasn’t until the following day, whilst looking at a book on perspective, that realisation dawned. I then drew converging lines in green biro, and was alarmed at just how far ‘off’ the drawing really was. At this point, I felt horribly confused and so unclear about what I should do. I felt I’d failed really badly at this, and that somehow it was something that should have been obvious to me. It wasn’t, however.
The next day, I decided to try again. This time, I sat in the kitchen, slightly nearer the sitting room. Once again, I began by establishing eye level, and it worked outwards from there. I took my time and looked very carefully at everything. As a consequence, I feel the scale of this sketch was much improved. Once I drew in the red correction lines, I was pleased to see that I had been very close with the majority of them. The most glaring mistake was the top of the door, the corrected angle of which seems impossible, but must be correct following parallel perspective theory. Also, I was slightly out with the angles of the box on the floor. These errors would seem to support the idea that angles are harder to read as one moves away from eye-level.
I developed such a mental block about this exercise, but am glad that I persisted and drew the second picture. Although it’s far from perfect, I did feel somewhat clearer about the concept of parallel perspective. I’ve been reassured by artist friends that this kind of thing becomes semi-automatic with practice. For now, it feels horribly mathematical and alien. As with so many other things, though, I’m sure practice will make a difference