Monday, October 3, 2016

One-Point Perspective Part Two: Dividing Vertical Space

After spending 12 days on the New England to Quebec sketching holiday cruise with some lovely students, I'm now back in the studio. If you want to see some photos of the trip, go here. I'll be uploading some of my sketches soon.

100th post, 10-year anniversary

This month we are covering dividing vertical space in perspective. But before I begin, I’d like to celebrate a bit. This is my 100th newsletter post, plus the 10th anniversary of Glastonbury Studios! I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. Thank you all. It’s been an absolutely wonderful adventure. I've grown a lot and I hope you have too. Wahoo!!!

Now onto the subject at hand:

Dividing Space
So far we've learned how to find the horizon line, the vanishing point and convergent lines. For instance, here's one of the photos from last month's issue with  all the perspective ingredients.

Notice in the picture how everything close to you is very clear and easy to see but as you go further toward the vanishing point (white dot), things get smaller and less distinguishable. How is that done? Well, you could guess-t-mate, which I often do when I'm drawing outside on one of my sketching holidays, fixing it all when I get back in the studio. You could also use your compass as a measuring tool to determine the distance, which is doable, but awkward. Or you could create dividing lines using the following method:

Dividing Vertical Space:
  • Step One:  Find your horizon line, convergent lines and vanishing point.
  • Step Two:  Draw your first vertical line, then find the  center. Draw a line from the center to the vanishing point. (In the example below, the horizon line and the mid-way point share the same space.)
  • Step Three:  Draw a second vertical line, which may be arbitrary.
Click to view larger graphic
©2016 by Jill Jeffers Goodell
  • Step Four:  Draw a line from A, crossing over mid-point (B) to C. Draw third vertical line.
  • Step Five:  Draw a line from D, crossing over mid-point (E) to F.   Draw your fourth vertical line.
  • Step Six:  Continue the same method until all vertical lines are built.

Click to view larger graphic
©2016 by Jill Jeffers Goodell
This may seem very tricky and hard, at first. But in this instance, practice makes perfect. In order to help you, I've uploaded a handout that you can use to practice. 

What I've shown you above is the "skeleton" of vertical spacing. Just for fun, I took the base layout and created a scene using gouache and marker.  Here's what it looks like:

Click to view larger graphic
©2016 by Jill Jeffers Goodell

I also have a fun handout that you can use to do the same thing. Color over the lines for the fence and then let your imagination run wild. 

One final thought. I was playing around with the division of space and wondered what it would look like with people instead of fences. Here's what I learned:

Click to view larger graphic
©2016 by Jill Jeffers Goodell

Now isn't that fun! But this only the beginning. We'll return to the fence again when we cover two-point perspective. For next month, let's build a room.

Until then, practice, practice, practice.

What's Coming Up!

Studio Classes
My studio classes have started and we've got a lively group this term. The next five-week term starts the first week of November. 

PCC Workshops
The Saturday workshops at PCC are usually held at the Sylvania campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please contact PCC for details: call 971-722-6266 or visit their website at: note: Workshops fill up early. You can email me to see if you can get in if the workshop is full.

Sketching Cats
October 15

Visual Journaling
November 5

Realistic Drawing
November 19

Pen and Ink
December 3

Sketch'n on the Go ™ Tours
England in 2017 
Back by popular demand!

Sketching the English Village
Chiseldon, UK
September 3-10, 2017
There is a $50 deposit to reserve your place.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

One-Point Perspective

Source: James E Homans, New American Encyclopedia of
Social and Commercial Information (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1908)

One-point perspective is fairly simple and straightforward. You have a horizon line (HL or EL--eye level) and one point (VP--vanishing point) on that line. All the parallel lines converge on this point, as illustrated above. Now let's  look at the same drawing with all its parts. The blue line is the horizon, the yellow lines are converging  and the red dot is the vanishing point.

Also notice that everything closer to you has more detail, whereas those objects further away become less distinct. 

The photo below is a very dramatic example of how everything goes to a point in the distance. I just love this picture. The photographer has truly captured that zooming feeling. Observe how the ties, rails and rock are so detailed immediately in front of us. Then move your eye further down the track and suddenly everything gets smaller and narrower--even the telephone poles. Also notice how the clouds nearest you are larger, while those in the distance get smaller. Believe it or not, drawing clouds using one-point perspective can be very, very helpful.

See how the lines all go toward the point in red.

More importantly, you can do so much with one-point perspective other than just railroad tracks. Check out all of these other examples.

Observe how all the yellow lines converge to the white vanishing point. By the way, when you determine where the vanishing point is located, you have actually found the horizon line (white horizontal line).

Can you see how this photo is in one-perspective?

In this photo, you can see that the pears are receding in the distance--although not that far away. But what else can you see? The horizon line and vanishing point are off the edge of the photo. This happens a lot. So how can you determine where the lines are going and where the vanishing point is located?

I'm glad you asked because I usually place a piece of paper behind the photo and then draw the convergent lines until they meet. That determines the vanishing point, which as I said before, establishes the horizon line. In this example, the horizon line is above the pears 

When it comes to still life or outdoor sketching, I use a protractor to determine my angles. It's a great little tool, especially if it comes with an arm. 
Below is another example of one-point perspective but this time with a rolled cake. As I said, we're not limited to just structures and buildings when exploring perspective.Again the horizon line is above the cake.

But why bother even finding the perspective? Is it really necessary. Yes, it is. For one, it will help you create a better picture. How many times have you looked at a painting or a drawing and known things weren't right? Often it's because the perspective is off.

But there is another reason. I like to set up the lines to serve as a grid for me. I can visualize right off how all the elements fit together. For example, let's review that city photo again.

Everything is in line with everything else and most importantly, objects are more detailed and larger further away from vanishing point. All I have to do is pay attention to the vertical lines to help me create the building, lamps, windows and so on.

Things seem simple enough, but there are some challenges to one-point perspective and that's the distance between objects that are next to each other, such as with a fence. 

See the fence below? By now it should be easy to establish the convergent and horizon line, along with the vanishing point, but notice how the space between each post gets smaller into the distance. Although it's fairly easy to draw, it can be tricky. Learn how in our October issue.

What's Coming UP?

Back by popular demand: 
Sketching the English Village
Chiseldon, UK
September 3-10, 2017
There is a $50 deposit to reserve your place.


Fall Studio classes begin  Week of September 25, 2016
Limited to six students per class.
Register by email:
Please note: Limited space per class. Payment reserves your seat.
See for details on any of the studio classes.

Pencil to Brush
Every Tuesday morning
Drawing and Painting
10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

The Morning Draw (Full with waiting list)
Every Wednesday morning
10 am to 12:30 pm
$75 per five-week term

Fun with Acrylics
Every Thursday evening
Painting Structures
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
$75 per five-week term
For more information email:


PCC Workshops
The Saturday workshops at PCC are usually held at the Sylvania campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please contact PCC for details: call 971-722-6266 or visit their website at:
Please note: Workshops fill up early.

Basic Drawing Workshops
October 1

Sketching Cats
October 15

Visual Journaling
November 5

Realistic Drawing
November 19

Pen and Ink
December 3

Sketch'n on the Go ™Tours

England in 2017 

Back by popular demand!

Sketching the English Village
Chiseldon, UK
September 3-10, 2017
There is a $50 deposit to reserve your place.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Linear Perspective

Back in 2009, I did a three part series on perspective (go to left-hand column to see archive link). I just finished teaching a six-week course on the subject and because it’s so fresh in my mind, I thought I’d share some of the lessons with you. BTW, I’ll be teaching a Perspective Workshop at PCC in the winter term at Sylvania.

So let’s first begin with some terminology. Some of you may remember this stuff from your old geometry classes.

Some definitions
Horizon line: Back in kindergarten or first grade, we were all taught that the horizon was where the sky meets the land. And while, that is a correct answer, it’s not so in art. Defined, the horizon line is at the eye level of the viewer, artist or photographer. If you are standing up, your eye-level will be higher than when you are sitting down. In other words, the horizon line changes when your eye-level changes.

For example, let’s look at the following picture (A).  Where is the photographer standing with his camera held next to his eye?
Photo A
Is he looking at the scene from above the lighthouse? Below the lighthouse? Up near the window walk in the tower or closer to the house? Maybe right in the middle of the tower?

This is the hardest part for most of us to comprehend. It's really all about the photographer and his viewpoint. To understand this, let's look at a couple of more terms.

Parallel lines. To create the perspective of anything, you must have at least two parallel lines. Notice that the photograph below has two lines headed for the light house. 

Convergent lines (vanishing lines or orthogonal lines). These parallel lines are called convergent lines because they will eventually converge onto one point. See photo B below.

Photo B

Vanishing point (VP). The point where the lines converge is called a vanishing point or VP. There's an old saying , "All lines meet at the vanishing point," which helps me to remember the concept. See photo C below.

Photo C

So why is it so important to find the vanishing point or VP? Because once you've found the VP, you have actually found the horizon line (HL) because vanishing points live on the horizon line* (which BTW appears in photo D below). It's really that simple. Well, I hope it seems simple.

One-point Perspective
What we've just explored is called one-point perspective. Before the Renaissance, artists didn't really understand perspective--that is, European artists. Most of their work was flat and had little depth. The only exception was the use of color. To indicate some distance, the artists would paint that blue haze in the distance.  Without using perspective, things do look rather one dimensional. For instance, what do exactly see below? 

Here is a triangle touching a straight line. 

But what happens if a dotted line is drawing right in the middle of that triangle. What do you see now?  The "perspective" is totally different, isn't it?

A road going into the horizon

I bet you can even label these lines based upon what you just learned.

Next month, we'll explore one-point perspective further. It's really neat when you learn how to do this stuff from drawing arches to the interior of rooms. Stay tuned.

* I'm talking here about one- and two-point perspective.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

James Joyce 1882-1941
English Sketching Holiday

May 8-15, 2016

As I am sitting here on a train back to Dublin from Belfast, I'm remembering the wonderful experience we had in our Sketching the English Village workshop last week. I believe we all had a good time.

Beginning the week with a proper English roast at the local pub, The Patriot Arms, we nine gals got to know each other a little bit. As we introduced ourselves, we learned that all of us are afraid to try something new, make mistakes and even share our work for others to peruse. I believe at the end of the week, everyone learned that mistakes and fears are what takes us to a new level. We learned how much fun it is to push our limits.

Back to our first meeting, the best part of pub life is not the drinking like in a bar, but the community that stems forth from it. I really don’t know what happened when folks came over the pond and opened taverns and pubs in our country. I’m sure they were offering places for travelers to find a pint as well as lodging (which still happens in England), but somehow ours became more of drinking establishments, instead of community establishments. Today’s pub has quiz contests and competitions, language clubs, chess matches and lots of fun activities, including a good ole pint and rather good food.

Avebury Henge
On our first full day of sketching we ventured into Avebury—about 20 miles from Chiseldon. Of course, it was raining, mostly misting. But just enough that we only had 45 minutes to draw before things got soggy. Remember, as I also say adjust and modify; so we did.

Avebury is an amazing village since the neolithic stones (like Stonehenge) are part and parcel of the area. I actually prefer Avebury Henge over the more touristy Stonehenge. The setting is peaceful beyond belief with sheep wandering aimlessly and green lush countryside at your feet.

On the way back to the hotel, the driver was kind enough to stop at Silbury Hill. Now mind you, back in 2000, my family and I drove around for miles looking for this place. It simple looks like green covered hill when in reality it’s a human-made mound that stands 131 feet tall and covers five acres. It was constructed between 2400 to 2300 BC. They’ve been trying to figure out its purposed to this day; they still have no idea.

Tuesday—inside for lecture
Our next day (Tuesday) proved to be even rainier, so I held an inside lecture and demo on one-and two-point perspective—always a good subject to cover when you are about to sketch ancient buildings. We also explored the use of watercolor wash. I promised the girls I’d do a watercolor wash workshop sometime in the future.

I must mention here that we, in fact, had three people who were “out-of-state.” For the first time, I received attention from around the country: Washington, Minnesota and Virginia. I’ve always had students that hail from Oregon, so this was very, very cool. And what’s best of all is that everyone really bonded, and bonded quickly. So for those who can’t make it to a workshop in my studio, we will be using Skype, which we used for the pre-trip workshop.

On Tuesday afternoon, we also hopped on a local bus and headed for Swindon and the train station. Chiseldon is an ideal small village, charming in itself but also only twenty minutes away from Swindon and a train station that can take you to London one way and Cardiff, Wales the other.

Wednesday Marlborough
One of the reasons I like to take groups on sketching holidays to England is because I LOVE coming to Chiseldon, Avebury and Marlborough. As I told the students, “This is my England.” When I take people to see the sweet villages and towns in this part of England, I return to my love. So it was with sheer delight that I was able to take everyone to Marlborough.

This town has had a license to hold a market every Wednesday and Friday since the early 1200s. Market towns and their licenses were created to help merchants sell their goods without nearby competition. Marlborough also has had a vivid history with kings and nobility, the supposed birthplace of Merlin and a true royal forest.

Of course, it was raining when we arrived and therefore, too wet to sketch the wonderful park that runs along the River Kennet. But we were able to take pictures of the beautiful country side, go to open air market and visit St. Peter’s, where Wolsey was ordained. We ended the day with a proper cream tea (tea with scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam)at Polly’s Tea Room—a local favorite.

Thursday Back at the village
Finally the weather started to get better and we were able to sketch the grounds of the hotel and the old Vicarage in the village. The hotel grounds are simply wonderful. Built in the mid-1800s, it was a residence for years. There is a scrumptious courtyard set just outside the hotel lobby that has lovely plants, a round, thatched-roof atrium, great stone walls and lots more to sketch. It’s truly a sketchers’ wonderland.

Then off we went to the old Vicarage. We had received permission from the owner to sketch it. So I had no worries about our group setting up “camp” on the driveway to sketch. Well, that is, until the wife drove up and was wondering what all these Americans were
doing sitting on stools in front of her house. When I explained what was happening, she was thrilled, jumped out of her car and started taking orders for either tea or coffee. When we balked, she informed us that she’d be insulted if we didn’t agree to some refreshments. Now how is that for hospitality! I only hope we can be as warm and friendly as she was when others visit our country.

From there we sketched the quaint cottages that face the church—some of them dating back to before the 1300s.

Friday Lacock & Castle Combe
Back in the earlier part of the week, I told the students that there was a village nearby where a lot of English movies are made (Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter to name a couple). Although cars are allowed, no wires hang above, making it a perfect place to film movies of the past. Another such village is Castle Combe where War Horse was filmed.

So as you can imagine, once they heard about these two places, they wanted to go. Fortunately, I have my local resources and called a coach company and asked if we could hire a minibus the next day. Yes, indeed we could. Hence, within 24 hours, we were sketching 13th century Lacock. This is really an old place and giving us all a great opportunity to sketch old homes, shops and religious buildings.

Heading back to hotel, the coach driver was kind enough to swing by Castle Combe. This is a most picturesque village. I can see why it was a perfect location for War Horse. We didn’t have to sketch, but did have 10 minutes to take photos.

Saturday, Bath
We spent our last full day in Bath. I cannot talk enough of this city—another beauty for me. Named after the Roman baths, the place is filled with some fantastic architecture (Circus and Royal Crescent) and the Pulteney Bridge (the only bridge with shops built on it other than Ponte Vecchio in Florence.).We had time to sketch the main courtyard before the Roman bath entrance, the bridge from afar and then on the bridge itself. We also had a scrumptious lunch too boot.

"Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0"

Want to see my travel photos, go to my Facebook page.

Future sketching holidays
It’s been nearly ten years since I started offering sketching holidays domestically and internationally. Every trip has been different, even some of them have been repeats. We learn and try to experience something new each time. Come join us, these trips are a lot of fun. You only unpack once (the hotel) and you bring home plenty of artwork, photos and stories to share.