balcony-sketchI am a Flat-Earther when it comes to drawing. We have to draw on two dimensional surfaces so how can anything really be three dimensional in our drawings? Drawing itself is an illusion; there are no lines around things, only changes in colour or tone or distance, so we have to invent marks to show those changes. We capture optical illusions with our lines; objects don’t really become smaller as they move away from us, they only appear to.

belltower-94-lrThis makes no sense to our beleaguered ‘left brains’ which will battle heroically to make things look the way they ‘should’. Struggling with perspective for hours and not knowing why the results still look so wrong is every student’s nightmare. Being shown how to construct disappearing perspective lines which meet on the horizon/eyeline makes the left brain happy, but it’s often hard to apply this accurately when faced with a real life, three dimensional subject. Lines tend to tilt in the completely opposite direction, we invent things we can’t see at all, and it just gets totally frustrating.

bretton-hallThere is a much easier way; drawing three-dimensional space so that it appears ‘real’ is almost simple if you tell yourself that the world is flat. You have to prove this first, so that your left brain will give up trying to ‘help’ you.

Hold up a piece of string with a weight on the end of it – a plumbline – so that you can see past it to, say, a cup on a table beyond it. Close one eye and see that the cup ‘touches’ the string in space. Now close the other eye instead and see how much the cup appears to have moved! We humans have brilliant binocular vision with our two eyes, which gives us our sense of depth and distance. In this case though, we need one view, so close one eye and see the cup ‘touching’ the string. darton-station-box-lrNow look down the string a little and see that the closest edge of the table ‘touches’ the string too, look down further and you will see the floor, the table legs perhaps – all ‘touching’ the string. Look up the string and you will see the further edge of the table and whatever else is in your view – a window perhaps, the view outside, miles down the road, all will ‘touch’ the string too!

Everything is FLAT! This can be quite a revelation, especially when you apply the idea to perspective – lines can only tilt diagonally on your flat space, like the hands of a clock; they cannot go ‘into’ the surface of your paper at all.

st-julians-sketchHolding up your pencil at arms’ length and looking past it at the lines you want to ‘see’ – with one eye closed of course – works in the same way, but you have to remember not to point the pencil ‘into’ the surface; it has to remain flat in front of your eyes.

This gives you not only a very useful tool to judge perspective with – it also gives you the greatest gift of all – you now LOOK LIKE AN ARTIST.

Do this with enough conviction (you don’t actually need to draw anything at all) and everyone will think you know exactly what you are doing.

About Jeni Caruana

Jeni was born in England and studied at Uxbridge, Hull and Harrow Art Colleges before settling in Malta in 1977. She subsequently worked as a graphic designer and followed a post-Diploma course at Malta College of Art. Jeni has held regular solo exhibitions of her works and participated in numerous joint, group and collective exhibitions in Malta and abroad, representing Malta in UK, USA, Sardinia, Rome, Tunisia, Libya and Norway. Paintings now hang in many public and private collections. --- Works cover a wide variety of subjects and media, from landscapes to Prehistoric Temples, sand to ceramics, watercolour and acrylics to wooden sculptures. They are always based on good drawing and keen observation and always started on location or from live models. Intense study of the human figure has resulted in her ability to capture fleeting glimpses of people in motion. Visually expressing the emotional effects of music on the senses, her ‘musician’ paintings are a favourite subject. --- Jeni has been teaching drawing and watercolour techniques to adults since 1995. She regularly runs courses and workshops in drawing and watercolour for adult beginners and improvers, specialised courses in life drawing, watercolour techniques, weekend workshops and painting outings and also art for self-expression, meditation and relaxation. --- For more information please contact; Studio Address: - “Dar Il-Mistrieh”, - 15, Old Church Street, - Manikata - MLH 5202