Teachers Lesson Plans

An Introduction to Pictorial Space

Atmospheric perspective
Atmospheric perspective
Definition: In a painting using atmospheric perspective, the use of successively less intense colours for each zone creates a feeling of spatial distance, corresponding to the effect of the atmosphere on our perception of faraway objects.

Detail of : Piero di Cosimo, Vulcan and Aeolus, 1495

Chromatic
Chromatic
Definition: Relating to colours.

Foreshortening
Foreshortening
Definition: Artists obtain this perspectival effect through an oblique representation of the object, as though it were either moving away from or moving toward the spectator. In order for the illusion to be apprehended correctly, the length of the object must be: shortened - hence the term "foreshortening" for this representational technique.

Horizon line
Horizon line
Definition: In linear perspective, the horizon line is where sky and earth meet. It is on this line that the vanishing point is located.

Pictorial
Pictorial
Definition: Pictorial means relating to or using pictures, paintings, etc.

Detail of Iris by Vincent van Gogh

Polyptych
Polyptych
Definition: Polyptych means an arrangement of four or more panels (as of a painting) usually hinged and folding together.

Jacopo di Cione, Triptych of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints, 1380

Theosophy
Theosophy
Definition: Denotes metaphysical teachings and systems, derived from personal experience and esoteric tradition, which base knowledge of nature and the human condition upon knowledge of the divine nature or spiritual powers. The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985 (exh. cat. by M. Tuchman and others, 1986)


© Family of Lawren S. Harris


Trompe l'oeil
Trompe l'oeil
Definition: In painting, the attempt to make images that seemingly share or extend the three-dimensional space in which the spectator stands.

Emanuel de Witte, A Sermon in the Old Church in Delft , c. 1650-1651.

Vanishing point
Vanishing point
Definition: The method of conveying an impression of spatial depth on a flat surface – a piece of paper, for example – was first developed in the Renaissance, during the fifteenth century. One of the rules of perspective is that all parallel lines moving away from the viewer will eventually converge at a single spot called the vanishing point. In other words, two parallel lines moving away from the viewer give the impression of converging at an infinite distance.