Project 2 – Exercise 1: Linear Perspective ‘InsideOut’

The course material mentions shifting perspectives and the focus on line. Using colour and tonal contrast as an additional visual element not necessarily relate to the objects and form. Colour to create “a sense of indeterminate space that is structured just by line”.

Contextual research

The rules of linear perspective as a mathematical based perspective around one central vanishing point from one fix viewpoint was invented by Filippo Brunelleschi (13771446). Leon Battista Alberti (140472) described this in his treatise De Pictura. It need to be clear that linear perspective is to represent reality in a flat picture plane and to convey spatial illusion. But it is not the physical reality, just one way the human eye may perceive reality from on fix standpoint. The organization of the picture plane like looking through a window remained a central aspect of western art until late 19th century. (Oxford Art Online). See also my earlier research on perspective – click here.

One key feature – and restriction – of linear perspective is that it depends on the fix observer’s standpoint. One example is James Turrell (b. 1943). He demonstrates in his work Afrum (White), 1966 the illusionary reality of perspective. Another artist who deliberately uses the illusion and the limitation is the Swiss artist Felice Varini (b. 1952) – Available from: [accessed 08 Nov 2016]

Varini works with anamorphic paintings and suspended installations that work optically perfect only from one certain standpoint. As his works are very large, from staircase up to entire town dimensions, the observer really need to find this ‘sweet spot’ to find the optical image. I find this a quite impressive demonstration of the linear perspective limitations. For me his works looks like architectural drawing, working in and with the physical space of an existing building,

For this exercise I was considering ‘shifting perspectives’ – a term truly relevant to contemporary painting per se – I am looking at David Hockney’s ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ , 1982. Hockney applied a rather embodied perspective in capturing his sight from one fix standpoint but with moving his head up and down so that his shoes can be seen in his image (Tyler).

Final painting:

‘InsideOut‘ or De(i)llusion – Oil and acrylic on sized and primed paper (49 x 49 cm)

Painting #1 (49 x 49 cm)

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - Linear Perspective - #1

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – Linear Perspective – #1

Painting #2 (63 x 45 cm)

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - Linear Perspective - #2

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – Linear Perspective – #2


Preparatory work

I experimented with an underground view at my work work place. The dramatic shapes bending along the tunnel reminded me of a landscape. Perhaps with a shifted perspective. I felt a certain claustrophobic sense. In Switzerland it is common and required by law to have a strong armored refuge in the basement in case of war. Behind me was the armored door – to close the entry. For me those doors always felt like shutting someone inside. After the line drawing I placed some bright colors on top of it – with either curved or rectangular shapes. Either reflecting the curved path or the strong rectangular architectural elements. Some visual idea note taking – not sure yet how to take this further as a landscape or as ‘looking out’ theme.

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - Linear Perspective - Sketchbook 1

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – Linear Perspective – Sketchbook 1

I had to get out from the claustrophobic scene and looked at another corridor – one point perspective of an outside corridor leading towards the above mentioned underground corridor. The first one is rather a coloured drawing, quite light. On that I based the last more freely painted sketch in gouache. More dramatic, more claustrophobic and mystic. Quite close to my feelings on location.

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - Linear Perspective - Sketchbook 2

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – Linear Perspective – Sketchbook 2


Questioning myself how to embark on this subject matter in the scope of this part ‘Looking out’ and this exercise. From the previous project I understood that the window as a key architectural element is not only a metaphor for ‘looking out’. Alongside the space around the window – as clearly there is no window without a wall – the relationship between me and the outside world can be articulated. I kept in mind what Gaston Bachelard said: “the house as the landscape is a ‘psychic state’” (in: Pallasmaa, 2011). That means landscape not as a picturesque outside view on nature only.

So I can conclude for my painting:

  • A linear perspective, one point, straight. ‘Color as intermediate space structured by color’ – as the course material says.

  • Citing Pallasmaa: “Authentic experiential or mental elements of architecture are confrontations, encounters and acts which project and articulate specific embodied and existential meanings. Our domicile is the refuge and projection or our body, memory and alienation.” (Pallasmaa, 2011) In combination with the idea that the architecture as a landscape are cultural articulations of our psychic state (Bachelard).

=> What leaves me to the question whether to include part of myself, my feet as in David Hockney’s ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ , 1982 or not. How else could I visualise and paint my embodied experience and sensation? Perhaps this would be too illustrative already? I should stick to ‘keep it simple’.

Claustrophoby: Are there colors that can push this feeling further? I found the term ‘advancing colors‘, colors as red, red-violet, orange. orange-yellow, yellow that are perceived as coming forward i.e. making the room smaller and more claustrophobic (Celeste, 2015). As my subject matter is a tunnel and basement those are perceived as trigger elements for claustrophobia as well. Somehow I applied intuitively those colors already in my preliminary sketch above. Another idea crossing my mind are related to Patrick HughesReverspectives‘ where what is supposed to be in the front is painting at a receding place and vice versa. As I am planning to paint still on a flat surface I would translate this into the concept of aerial perspective (next exercise): loss of focus, contrast for receding objects. So what if I just reverse this and overlay it with a linear perspective line painting? How far can I push this?

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - Linear Perspective - Sketchbook 3

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – Linear Perspective – Sketchbook 3

Looking up Max Ernst (1892 – 1976) and his technique of Decalcomania (click here), a technique of taking off an image with plastic, glass or any other surface and place this on the support. This action pulling forms flaky and biomorphic textures. Chaos and a random order of paint – close to the ‘Rorschach‘ inkblots.  The Rorschach-Test was developed in 1921 as a projective psychological test to measure thought disorder based on the observation that schizophrenia patients often interpret ambiguous images in very unusual ways.  I am wondering whether I could use this technique in connection with the Rorschach test to elaborate my idea further of claustrophobia as a mental state of mind with images that derive from pure imagination triggered by architectural elements.

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - Linear Perspective - Sketchbook 4

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – Linear Perspective – Sketchbook 4


Those images and visual effect are quite different. I can sense the advancing effect of the red-orange-yellow colors. The red on the top of no. 2 are pushing the ceiling downwards making the space tighter. The grey opaque paint in no.3 are extremely strong and overwhelming the mysterious effect of the background. In no.4 I modulate a bit the color at the right curved wall, giving it more form. and by that it pops out more. Also in no.4 I can sense the receding perception of the blue in the middle right and  the advancing of yellow to the middle left. The juxtaposition of both colors can add visual space perception to the image.


Work in progress

  1. Preparing the paper sheet to transfer to my support in acrylic paint. Working on two supports in parallel as there is still a big amount of chance involved, so to see which would be visually more appealing and why. Also working on two formats: square and rectangular – to discern later what is more successful
    Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - preparation

    Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – preparation

    and a close up view of the paint surface texture:

    Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - preparation close up

    Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – preparation close up

  2. Checking the areas to leave the background and where to paint over:

    Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - preparation cut out view

    Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – preparation cut out view

  3. Painting in transparent and opaque layers in oil.
    I used oil paint for the layering as I prefer its more powerful translucency compared to acrylic paint.Painting #1:

    Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - #1 - work in progress

    Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – #1 – work in progress

    Painting #2:

    Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 1 - #2 - work in progress

    Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 1 – #2 – work in progress

    At this stage the wall pattern reminded my of Edouard Vuillard and his repetitive and merging patterns that cross the wall and interior spaces.

Overall I am satisfied with the outcome. I stopped at a stage before it went to overworking. My focus was on depicting believable visual receding space and a sense of uncanny claustrophobia. I believe this came out right, perhaps more in painting #1 than in #2 which is perhaps too ‘nice’. Nevertheless I think that #2 conveys a stronger sense of simplicity and juxtaposition of line and indeterminate spaces. In #1 I am not sure about the visual effect of the red strips in the floor, they seem to tilt, not clear whether they are horizontal or vertical. But I think that this ambiguity adds to my initial idea of claustrophobia.


  • I do think that its the strong line painting iI created believable sense of receding space.
  • I am quite pleased how I developed my idea from a simple line sketch. I saw various  way forward and as I kept going new ideas came up. Shows me once again that using sketchbooks for exploration rather than planning is more successful.
  • Overall I am satisfied to experience how the painting get its own life during the painting process.

Next time:

  • Investigating more how to use decalcomania and paint transfer to visualize other scenes.
  • I rejected the other sketch of the corridor for this exercise. Here the second sketch in paint without preliminary line drawing is rather successful and I would like to see how I can push this further. Reminds me at times of Anselm Kiefer.


Amendment: 18 Dec 2016

After some time of reflection I put my painting for critique at the OCA Discussion Forum – available at:

Here are the comments and feedback received – on painting #1 first and after some time I posted painting #2:

I like it, it is a confined space, a subway and yet open and light. Ideas and thoughts splashed all over the wall as you walk. The river/path turns left and yet the lights on the ceiling turning right. A place into your mind, open and closed and no matter which path you take there will still be the walls splashed with thoughts and ideas, confined and open, a left or a right path to take, around we go, a maze within.   

It makes me think of being advertised at by giant LCD screens on the Underground.

Other peoples comments are now starting to make me think it’s psychedelic! 


Well, I see what you guys are saying but my first impression was that I was looking out of a upper window down into a tiny enclosed area and there were windows facing into the space. The curves however make this difficult.

Next interpretation was a pathway through a gallery of some nature with big paintings on the walls. However, I am left with something I cannot explain and this is the bit at the end of the pathway or bottom of my enclosed space. What I see there is a paint roller with the handle sticking up. It has different colours on the roller compared with the tray so that is a problem too although the colours match the painting nearest the viewer on the left ‘wall’.

I now think of a futuristic paint roller that can paint patterns/pictures onto the wall.

What an engaging painting! 

I have acrophobia and claustrophobia but funnily enough it’s not the confinement of this space that bothers me (I can see the exit just ahead to the left) but the floor – it’s not solid, it’s has another dimension. It makes my feet tingle just to look at it, I want to cling to the pink sides! Very interesting.

I have acrophobia and claustrophobia but funnily enough it’s not the confinement of this space that bothers me (I can see the exit just ahead to the left) but the floor – it’s not solid, it’s has another dimension. It makes my feet tingle just to look at it, I want to cling to the pink sides! Very interesting. 


I can see the space is contained but personally I don’t feel claustrophobic, instead I find it warm and comfortable. I find the patterns on the walls and path beautiful and mesmerising. I can imagine I could spend hours in there looking at the walls. To me it is representative of a journey through creativity, I would enjoy the walk and not feel the need to rush through to escape.

I added my thinking that I could make this painting as a real life installation either in same building or another space:
Yes do it! I can definitely see it as an installation. Where you have mentioned claustrophobia I am now thinking about Antony Gormley’s installation ‘model’ and his interest in bodies in space. Probably very different to your thought processes but perhaps there is a link 

My first reaction was that this is very different to any of the other work I’ve seen of yours – drawings or paintings. So in itself, that set me off thinking – what’s he getting into now? I know there’s always so much deep thought behind your work.

I find the use of linear perspective interesting, the creation of an illusion of space and depth on a 2D surface. That use of ‘interesting’ isn’t a put-down – it’s something I’m now almost obsessively interested in. I think it’s interesting how difficult it is to ‘see’ it in any other way – and I’ve looked at the image rotated left and right and had the same experience.

Thinking of all this reminded me of some paintings by Han Feng, such as Subway Tunnel (2013). This link should show you that painting

The contrasting forms of mark-making are interesting – though I really don’t like the pink-orange sections, neither the form of brushwork nor the colour. For me, they’re really ugly … and I wonder if that’s all very deliberate. The contrast is with the very textural green and blue-red sections which really do sparkle.

I shall be very interested to hear what you say about the work. 

Feedback on painting #2:

The technique here is much more polite causing the image to lose its queasiness. It’s more decorative and more easily digested. I don’t think it’s as strong as the original.

Stylistically this particular version was reminding me of another painter’s work last night and I just couldn’t remember who but it just came to me Ron Kitaj. 


Conclusion on critique:

I can sense that other people looking at the painting on a computer or smartphone do relate to some of my own sensations and feeling while being on location and during my making of the painting. It pleases me that certain aspects do come across. I was intrigued about connections made to other artists: Ron Kitaj, Antony Gormley, and Han Feng. I found the link to Antony Gormley especially fascinating as he is concerned about the ‘investigation of our experience of architecture through the body and of the body through architecture‘ (from: (from The chosen colors made some people uncomfortable what I see as part of the context and my intention. Overall I am intrigued by the various perspectives and can see the critique forum as an important part of inter-subjective discernment.




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