plein air landscape painting
Painting From Life vs. From Photos

Hanneke can’t post today and she asked me to fill in for her. I wanted to remark on an interesting trend in some of the comments about her work. For example, looking at an image of Old grapes, new painting, Colin Jago wrote “I seem to be looking down on the grapes and up at the glass.”

For Colorful Underpainting, Steve wrote “my first impression was that the cloth was somehow mounted on a wall. The bunch of grapes and the way they rest on it make this interpretation virtually impossible, of course, but I still don’t feel the correct perspective as strongly as I would like to.”

Hanneke paints her still life paintings “from life” and she tries to paint what she sees. Is she trying to show multiple viewpoints, or to produce distortion in perspective? Not intentionally, she has said. But is she doing so unintentionally?

Let’s take a look at Hanneke’s imaginary still life drawing and see if can find out more about the viewpoint issue.

In this imaginary still-life, the vessel is seen directly from the side, but the table top and fruit are seen from a different perspective, from above. We seem to look down on the table top while looking at the vessel from the side. This merging of different perspective points lends an interesting quality to the imaginary drawings. More examples of her “multiple viewpoint” imaginary drawings are here, here and here.

Let’s compare this to a drawing made directly from a real still life the same week when she made the imaginary drawings:

Do you see the difference? In this drawing from a real still-life, multiple viewpoints are not manifest. The fruit and the vessel are both seen from the same viewpoint.

I think that Colin and Steve are on to something with their comments about Hanneke’s painted still life work. In the “from life” still life paintings, the perspective may be technically correct, but she sometimes manages to produce a feeling of different viewpoints nonetheless. Would it be interesting if she tried to bring this difference in viewpoints more explicitly into her “from life” still life paintings? Or, should she work to correct the apparent flaw when it occurs?