|How to Draw Objects in Foreshortening|
Foreshortening in Still Life Painting
Trying to draw an object in foreshortening or in other words, pointing at the viewer, is a common stumbling block for beginners trying to paint from life. The “long” object appears squashed to one side, or out of true. The following culprits are often to blame for such an unwanted focal point in a still life painting:
- Giving in to the inner voice that insists that the object is long, regardless of how it appears in foreshortened view, causing the artist to artificially lengthen the object in an attempt to satisfy this inner dogma.
- Illustrating all sides of the object in an attempt to make it look as though it is projecting from the page as it does so in real life.
- Granting the object lines which may not be discerned in real life, just to illustrate a long edge or series of edges.
- Due to the ineffective methods just described, the artist may fiddle with the area until it looks a confused mess.
The problem with objects viewed in foreshortening is that the brain becomes split in view. The object is long and yet it appears short in real life. If taking on board both pieces of advice, the dilemma of how to illustrate the foreshortened object cannot be resolved. The following drawing exercise might help with foreshortened objects in still life art.
Forget labels for objects and forget any attempt at rendering what the object “is.” The object is no longer an object but a series of abstract contours and tonal shapes. Similarly, forget that it is long or other descriptive labels for how the object “should” look.
Watch out for the parallax effect. Viewing the object through one eye and then the other may reveal two completely different views, where an outline may be visible in one view, yet invisible in the other. If the two differ significantly, it might be best to shut one eye whilst attempting to render the foreshortened object.
Remember that objects in foreshortened view may not resemble the object viewed in familiar ways. A teapot spout may appear round; a breadknife a triangle; a breadstick as a stub and clothes pegs as squares. Regardless of how impossible the shape may appear, trust what the eye sees and forget what the brain “knows” about the object.
A foreshortened object may often not exhibit lines, but areas of light and shadow. Resist the temptation to illustrate lines to demonstrate length if no lines can be seen.
How to Draw Foreshortened Objects for Still Life Paintings
Try other simple objects in isolation such as bottles or beakers. A first attempt may not always yield a satisfactory result, but practice of drawing objects in foreshortened view is a great way of raising visual awareness whilst rendering other objects in a still life.
Relevant Links to Still Life Art