Virgil Elliott wrote:


And Chris Miller responded:


Virgil goes on to write ... Chris,

Several things. My own experiences in learning perspective as a child, which had me struggling with it until a helpful teacher showed me the mechanics of it, which opened the door to understanding, which subsequently (after much more practice) enabled me to develop a sense of it and the ability to visualize the scene on my paper in correct and convincing perspective, for one thing, and twenty years' experience in teaching art and having success with it following that same method, for another. Your contentions that one can learn perspective by painting and looking at paintings runs counter to my own experiences and observations, and you have not shown that you possess a thorough working knowledge of perspective yourself, much less any experience in teaching it to others. To my knowledge, and by your own admission, you are not a painter, so anything you say about painting is unlikely to be from first-hand knowledge gained through experience, and even less likely to be from the viewpoint of a competent painter. I will revise my view on that point when/if I see well-painted pictures done by Chris Miller.

You have also made other statements regarding perspective that I know to be in error; statements no one who understands perspective would make.

You have admitted having access to Rex Vicat Cole's book, and have shown that you have at least looked at parts of it, so whatever knowledge you might actually be able to demonstrate of perspective in a drawing at some point in the future might well be due to having seen the methods for working it out in Cole's book.

Having brought the discussion back to Cole's book, my recommendation of which to Norberto being what started this debate in the first place, I must say that you would be doing the future of art a disservice by dissuading students from studying the basics of representational art, if any of them were foolish enough to pay heed to your advice. University art professors have been doing this for at least sixty years, and the results have been shameful.

It appears your idea of what is meant by the word, "perspective" is the mathematical approach of working it out using vanishing points and lines actually drawn to them in a plan. Perspective is more than that. Perspective means the principles at work in indicating spatial recession (depth) on a flat surface, whether done with a plan or all in the artist's head. Learning the mathematics of it helps one develop the ability to do it in one's head. It is a first step to learning, analogous to the necessity of learning simple arithmetic, through the first simple exercises adding and subtracting on paper with numbers written, and working up, step-by-step, to trigonometry and advanced calculus, or learning the alphabet in order to learn to read and write before attempting to write poetry or great literature.

There are always mechanics behind great creative achievements in any of the arts. They are not done simply by inspiration and creative urge. There is rhyme and meter involved in poetry, which also requires literacy and mastery of the use of words; there are mathematics and meter in music, which even "ear" players know on the instrument and in their heads, regardless of whether they can read music on the printed sheet. Without a good understanding of the underlying structures, one is limited to primitivity.

-- Virgil Elliott