Eye levels, Bricks and Stuffed Peacocks



We love our outdoor sketching, and capturing all the places we like in our own way.

However I decided that good old fashioned perspective is something many people are bamboozled by.

So in our second week we introduced a serious look at how it works.

On the whiteboard is a simple shape showing eye level, and vanishing points going 2 ways. That could be sketched into your book so you can refer back to it.

On the tables were 2 setups of books, all stacked and pretending to be box shapes.

One vanishing point goes one way, and the other, the other way.

Simple? Not really. Because it doesn’t look like a building and yet the same things are happening.

Here it’s all below your eye level – because you are looking down on it.

You need to spend time really observing and thinking about where the lines are going.

Apart from the uprights, all is going in one of two directions.

Yes we had some breakthroughs, and some dummy spits!

Then down to Manly to find the wonderful brick building I’d seen which totally illustrates what we are doing.

Stand on the corner of the building, right up close,  and put your finger on the bricks in front of your eyes. Walk back. See how they go along absolutely level, and guess what, follow it round the corner – and it’s still level.

You’ve done it. You’ve found it. That’s your very own personal eye level.

We sketched away once again and with our minds still arguing about lines and angles are the ones..

It was all getting a bit serious, so a fun lunch was required.

Manly Wine it was. Eclectic, eccentric decor, The occasional hanging peacock, with a view of the beach to die for, plus excellent food. A little sangria and everyone was happy again.

Now wasn’t that worth it.





Today I explained the building we’d be doing and how much I wanted every sketcher to never again be intimidated by the P word.

So by doing a copy of the simple graph I’d drawn, and by keeping this in your book, there’d be something to refer to in a moment of panic.

We then attacked the 2 book still life setups by looking to find which 2 directions they were going.

We’re looking down on it anyway, so both directions ‘going away’ will come up and get smaller.

I felt so pleased for everyone today that they worked so hard looking looking looking, till they could see what was happening.

In fact most people completed two sketches.

The people in the cafe opposite would be wondering whatever a group of people were doing, walking up to a brick wall, putting their nose on it, sticking their finger on the bricks and saying ‘ahaaaa’.

Just your average travel sketching group discovering their eye level. What else!

It was here that for some the whole concept was making sense.

All of the sketchers were showing serious understanding of perspective now.

Amazing, I can now say the ‘P’ word and people don’t pass out.

Now that is progress.

Manly Wine for lunch and we have our own big table with hundreds of wine bottles stuck into the rack behind us. Sensibly they’re empty.

From here we can look out to the gorgeous cerulean and lime green waves breaking on the beach, and the surfers who are loving the perfect rides.

A bit of fun to top of a hard session out on the streets.






Another fab sunny day in Sydney. We do appreciate our gorgeous days.

We had an enthusiastic class today, though a little less so when they realised what was ahead.

One new sketcher, a lovely young girl from Switzerland was with us today.

She was rather lucky to have 3 tutors giving her the first ‘how to see’ guidance with sketching her vase of fluted hibiscus. What a lovely result, and then with colour added, a delight.

We talked with everyone about eye levels, and each did a copy of the one on the whiteboard.

Before we went down the hill, we opened a pack of Hawaiian biscuits we’d heard about from Therese, and Christy managed to track down on her recent trip there.

Yum. Everyone got to pick one. To eat!


Then to our waiting brick walls. You’ll see the demo above as each one did the ‘nose to the wall’ trick and discovered their own line of bricks.

A couple were passing a little intrigued. He stood in front of our sketchers and held his hands round his face to be sketched.

‘You’re not in perspective’ a sketcher commented. ‘Oh that’s my problem, I never have been’ he laughed and they wandered off.

We thought it was fabulous.

Today every person managed to sketch the angles very well, and correct any lines which went astray. Well done.

Manly Wine here we come.

On the lower ground today with its glorious view to the turquoise sea and the 2 stuffed peacocks overhead.

The food and coffees were ordered and sketching and colouring continued.

So very proud of everyone this week.

Some major breakthroughs and confidence building.

Another great week.


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