Techniques used in Perspective Painting
Atmospheric perspective was also known
as aerial or color perspective. To achieve a sense of depth, an artist used lighter,
duller colors for objects far away in the distance and darker, more intense colors
for objects close to the viewer. The earth's atmosphere, which contains dust and
moisture, removes some red and yellow light, making distance objects appear duller
(that is also why the sky is blue). This technique, therefore, was only used in
outdoor paintings. Leonardo da Vinci was the
first artist to define atmospheric perspective.
Oil painting was an important development in painting. Pre-Renaissance painters used
tempera, an egg-yolk based paint. Oil, unlike tempera, could be layered on top of
itself, allowing artists to create intricate details and subtle tones.
Jan van Eyck pioneered the use of oil in painting.
Oil painting paved the way for many improvements in painting, including:
Use of Fine Detail
Oil paint, easier to control than tempera, could be used on smaller
brushes, making finer details easier. The layering ability of oil paint
also made complex textures possible.
Improved Proportions and Sizing
By improving the detail level of
paintings, oil paint also improved
perspective and proportion. Artists could paint minute details which
added to the illusion of depth.
Use of Light and Shadows
Because it could be layered, oil allowed artists to paint shadows, which had
been nearly impossible with tempera paints. Shadows are one of the most important
"clues" our brain uses to create depth.
Defining Space with Borders
Artists often used borders or masking to control and define the space viewed by the
observer. By surrounding the painting, a border controls space both physically and
psychologically. For example, in St. Jerome in his Study,
Antonello da Messina painted a border around the
picture to make the picture look like a window into St. Jerome's study. This
defines physically what the viewer is able see, as well as drawing the viewer into
the painting by creating the illusion of peering into St. Jerome's study from the