Imagine life with no television, no computers, and where books are a rarity. The power of art would increase exponentially because you wouldn't be inundated with visual images all the time. The handful of artworks you might see in your entire life would really make an impact. That's pretty much what life was like for people alive during the Renaissance. Seeing an altarpiece painting or ceiling fresco was like entering a different world–and artists were well aware of the suggestive power they wielded, actively pursuing ways to enhance the realism of their images.
|The Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna, 1460, tempera on canvas.|
One of the ways artists made their works more realistic to their viewers was with linear perspective. With one-point perspective, two-point perspective, and three-point perspective, artists dramatically increased the realism of the scenes they were painting by playing with the sense of space in their works and the illusion of distance and depth.
Foreshortening was a significant byproduct of these perspective drawing explorations. Using foreshortening allowed an artist to paint an object to look like it is angled to the viewer. As a result the object seems closer and the distance between it and the viewer seems less than it actually is. The illusion that the viewer and object are in the same space is created.
Imagine looking at Andrea Mantegna's Dead Christ for the first time; you feel like you are literally standing at the feet of the figure of Christ. That would have been a powerful moment for a viewer who may have never seen an artwork using foreshortening before. That's why linear perspective was lauded as such a coup by the artists of the day. It allowed painters to pull viewers into a painting and set a whole new standard for how artists could render realism.
If you want to evolve your artistic capabilities much like the Renaissance masters of the past, perspective drawing lessons are essential. Fortunately we have a resource that is tailored specifically toward the goals and interests of artists. Perspective Made Simple explores how to draw perspective dynamically and easily, and the payoff is creating convincing works of art that make us all feel like we are entering a different world, just like those viewers centuries ago. What a gift! Enjoy!