Painting from Life--Multi-Focus Perspective
To compose a painting, you must know something about perspective. In Western drawing and painting (oil painting, watercolour etc.) linear perspective is usually applied. Linear perspective is a geometric method of representing objects so that they appear three-dimensional.
Perspective theory applied in Western painting presumes that all side edges of an object placed flat recede to vanishing points on the horizon line. If you put a piece of glass vertically in front of your eyes and draw what you see through the glass, you will achieve a picture with correct perspective. Understandably, in doing this, you cannot turn your head left or right, up or down. You have a fixed "focus". Your picture displays what your field of vision holds, the same as a photograph of the scene.
Chinese artists treat this problem in their own way. Their representation is not limited to one field of vision. They put many views into one picture thus exhibiting the whole picture stored in the artist's memory. Such a painting often has several focus points. A Chinese landscape artist can depict what he sees at eye level, above and below that level, and what he sees as he turns his head to the right, left or even further round. This method is called "scattered-focus" perspective (sandian toushi), as opposed to the Western true perspective. A Chinese landscape may be a two or three-metre high vertical scroll or a dozen-metre long horizontal scroll, and as the viewer unrolls the painting, he feels he is travelling among mountains or along a fiver with the artist. He is reliving the artist's experience. While you can view an oil painting all at once, you must view a Chinese scroll painting section by section.
Chinese artists' perspective is not as "precise" as in the West. Artists in
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