Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finding Vanishing Points When Painting Outdoors

According to Wikipedia, a vanishing point is a point in a perspective drawing to which parallel lines not parallel to the image plane appear to converge. The number and placement of the vanishing points determines which perspective technique is being used. The concept was first used by Renaissance artists such as Donatello, Masaccio and Leonardo da Vinci.

It is very important when painting outdoors to establish your vanishing points with objects, especially when painting buildings and structures. If you do not figure out your vanishing point early in your composition, your structure’s drawing may sit incorrectly and no amount of change, including values, painting technique, or even a great composition can fix it.
In my painting, "White Silo," the vanishing point is actually outside of the painting's left edge.

"White Silo" by Patty Meglio

Suppose that you are painting a building from a side view. A quick and easy way to figure out your vanishing point is to use your arms and feet as measuring devices. To do this with a building, face your building, and turn your left foot to line up parallel with the left side of the building. Raise your left arm and point it in the same direction as your foot, at eye-level. If you draw lines along your arm and from your foot outward, the point at which the lines meet will be your vanishing point. Do the same on the right side, with your right foot pointing outward parallel to the building’s right side, and your arm sighted along your eye-level looking towards the right. You now have two vanishing points from which you can measure the correct proportion of the sides of your building.
"The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci used perspective in this painting to draw the viewer’s eyes to Jesus as the star of his painting.

Da Vinci photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


martinealison said...

Il est vrai qu'en tant qu'autodidacte je ne me pose pas vraiment la question de lignes de fuite... Je crée à l'instinct... de par mon imagination... Un cours m'a fait plaisir.
Belle peinture, j'aime beaucoup votre tracteur et les couleurs employées pour ses roues.

Patty Meglio said...


My French is rusty, but I think I understand what you are saying. You use your instinct to paint, you create with your imagination.

Thank you for the compliments.