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Painting from an unexpected or unusual viewpoint can add an extra exciting dimension to your work, says Judi Whitton, who advises on how to achieve the best results
St Mark’s Basilica from St Mark’s Square, watercolour on Bockingford grey 140lb (300gsm), 131⁄2x91⁄2in (34x24cm)

It is easy to overlook the importance of your position when working, but an unfamiliar point of observation can lead to unexpected difficulties.


When the terrain is flat

The iconic view of the basilica in St Mark’s Square, Venice is shown in my painting (above) but as you can see from Photo A (left) the ground is level. This means your eye level is similar to the people around you, so the heads of the figures tend to be on the same plane whereas the overall size of the people diminishes as they recede.

When painting a vista with dispersed figures I prefer a viewpoint from a standing position as it feels as though it is the panorama as seen from their eyes. If you paint when sitting your eye level is lower, and any figures standing close by may appear to loom above you and look uncharacteristically tall, as in Photo B (above). A deliberately low viewpoint can add drama but if there is an incongruity between the figures close to you and those further away, it may be better to get to your feet to draw the standing figures, and continue to check that the slightly lower viewpoint is not strongly affecting the perspective on any of the surrounding buildings.

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About The Artist

Let this month's issue of The Artist inspire and guide your next steps in drawing and painting a range of figurative subject matter in all media. From realistic still lifes in acrylics, watercolour landscape challenges suggested by Amanda Hyatt, David Parfitt and Paul Talbot-Greaves, through to portraits in oils and mixed media, our fantastic team of practising artist-contributors aim to help you develop your knowledge and skills based on their own experiences as professional artists and tutors. Check out the list of contents for more details of all the great articles in this issue, and look out for our latest sketching competition to enter on page 66, plus win £500 worth of gift vouchers to spend on art materials with Great Art in our PaintersOnline competition on page 6. See also pages 12 to 13 for the latest news on the Patchings Art, Craft & Design Festival (July 12-15). We will be celebrating the opening of our annual The Artist open exhibition there on July 12. We look forward to meeting our successful selected artists and visitors to the festival.