Subject vs Sketch

Written by an Urban Sketch Student

Understanding Ian’s Perspective

Ian Fennelly’s use of shapes, distortion, richness and choice of colours impresses me in Module 2 of the Urban Sketch Course. Consequently, I thought it would be interesting to compare Ian’s artistic interpretation with the reality of the subject. One part of the comparison is made by first examining the two-perspective aspects of the photograph of the subject.

The vanishing points associated with the building are shown here; the one to the left falls outside the edge of the page. However, it must be appreciated that a photograph itself slightly distorts perspective, so the photograph does not accurately portray perspective.

Ian's perspective of the house, showing structured guidelines
Ian Fennelly's painting of the house

Ian’s interpretation is examined from the perspective point of view as shown in the picture on the left. Red lines outline the structure.

The red lines from Ian’s representation are superimposed on the original photo. The perspective lines associated with the structure of the house seem to be undisciplined in that they lack a common vanishing point. Basically, the perspective is distorted.

A More disciplined structure perspective of the house

This distortion offers a caricature of the building where features are distorted and exaggerated in a slightly humorous way. The approach adds attractive and appealing features to the character of Ian’s interpretation.

Images of all Ian's perspectives

Artists Distortion and Exaggeration of Subjects

The purpose of art is not to depict reality – it is to transform reality into something more interesting and meaningful. This is achieved by distorting and exaggerating the subject. Also, the artist can embellish the subject to make it more interesting by adding details which may be untrue.

Source of Information: Annie Weatherwax, “Exaggeration & Distortion: What Writers Can Learn From Visual Artists”, 8 June 2016.

Skilled artists can make their subjects more interesting by capturing the nature of their subjects by distorting or exaggerating prominent features. Caricature artists are masters at this by portraying their subjects in a simplified or exaggerated way. Erik Learned-Miller of the Computer Vision Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst views that “The miraculous thing about caricature artists is that they’re able to zero in on the most distinctive aspect of somebody.”

Source of Information: Ben Austen, “What Caricatures Can Teach Us About Facial Recognition”, 15 July 2015.

Here are some sketches from our students

An embellishment used by Ian is that of colour. The photo of the house shows the dark colour of the wooden fixtures. In the painting Ian adds vivid reds complemented by paler ochre colours with some blue highlights. Shades of blue are featured on the gable ends making them much more dominant.

Finally, Ian’s work applies a sophisticated understanding of the application of distortion, exaggeration and embellishments. His use of vibrant colours to make features more prominent and dominant is also very effective. The caricature approach adds humour to his work.

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