My favorite books to find in used book shops are those that are fun to look through, useful, and not easily available. Gwen White’s A Pictorial Perspective is that kind of book. I found it at Foster’s Bookshop (actually a visiting friend found it but didn’t buy it – thank you, Rachel!). It was published by William Morrow and Company in Great Britain in the 1950s. According to the jacket copy, “Miss White” presents all the fascinating tricks of Perspective “in the pleasantest possible way.”
Perspective has never been my strong suit. I learned only the barest basics when studying art in college. I think the style of my work has evolved to avoid perspective. It is still evolving in that direction.
However, sometimes I can’t avoid perspective. This book will be excellent reference.
At first glance, I thought the book was a children’s picture book. The images are colorful and charming, although they did seem oddly placed on the page.
But then I realized their placement wasn’t arbitrary. It corresponded to the line art on the opposite side.
So if you hold the image up against a light source, (like my window), it shows the perspective used to create it.
Each concept has a diagram and explanation,
and an illustration demonstrating its usage,
which you can hold to the light from either side to see how the perspective works.
Gwen White writes in her introduction to the book:
Just as a study of verbs is necessary in order to speak a language, … so is a knowledge of Perspective helpful if you wish to convey a feeling of depth. It is not concerned with Flat Design or Decoration, but it enters into outdoor sketching, scenery, film backgrounds, dioramas, and many book illustrations.
For example, if you wanted to illustrate a book about rabbits in moonlight…
or pigs in sunshine…
Or mice playing…
or a variety of other scenes, Pictorial Perspective will help you.
She called this technique of holding the pages to the light her “lift up” idea.
Even the endpapers are explanatory.
I tried to find out more about Gwen White, but there doesn’t seem to be much on her that is easily accessed. She did illustrate children’s books, and authored a book about patterns as well as others about dolls and toys. She was also a painter who exhibited at the Royal Academy and was ARCA (Associate Royal Cambrian Academy). She dedicates this book to her three sons. I hope to find out more with continued research.
In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy learning perspective in the pleasantest possible way.