How to Draw an Ellipse: Linear Perspective Part II (Online art lesson #53)

daffodils for drawing ellipses lesson

Spring is here!

Happy St. Patty’s Day.  Two holiday posts:(video) Mixing Ireland’s Forty Shades of Green  Artful Greens and Malarkey

                    Daffodils are blooming and all sorts of life is pushing its way out of the dirt.  Intending to do a seasonally correct series on How to Draw Flowers, I thought that I should begin with the ellipse because this understanding will make such a difference with every flower.  That decision opened a can of worms big enough to fatten all the spring robins.  It’s taken me a week to sort it all out and decide that the best way to simplify the ellipse is to begin with How to Draw a Glass. Sounds like more malarkey, but it’s St. Patty’s day, and I’ve kissed the Blarney stone, but wait, to bring this full circle you need to know that an ellipse is a full circle – seen in perspective – and if you learn to draw your ellipses with elegant ease, your artwork will have  greater beauty and strength of form.  Maybe you’re regretting my kiss and the questionable gift of eloquence that it gave me. Back to business:

linear perspective lesson on how to draw a glass

Ellipses are easily studied if you use a drinking glass.

Hold a drinking glass in front of your face with the rim at the level of your eyes.  (To understand eye level see linear perspective part I.)  You KNOW that it is circular, but you SEE a straight line.  When drawing or painting your knowledge of what the shape “really” is  gets in the way of your actual  perception.  This trait has helped us survive as a species, but it has messed with our artwork. We need to sip out of that straight line and to do that we need to know that the straight line is “really” round.   In your artwork, sorry to say, even minor mistakes along this line will make work look amateurish.

It’s not just moving above of below eye level that changes the ellipse.  Rotation of the glass has the same effect.  Play with a real glass until you have this firmly in your mind.

linear perspective lesson on how to draw an ellipse

as you rotate the glass horizontally, think about bicycle wheels, etc.

Look at the photos of the glasses.  Click on them to enlarge them and then trace the ellipses with your finger to get a feel for drawing them with smooth curves all the way around.

Now go back to the photo of the daffodils and  trace your finger around the obvious ellipses of the trumpet.  Then trace the less obvious ellipses by connecting the larger petals.  They will not all perfectly conform, but your structure will be stronger if the petal lengths fall into a basic ellipse that is in the same perspective as the trumpet.  It really can’t be otherwise.

For more about daffodils and their ellipses, see these two videos:Daffodil painting and the ellipse
more about daffodils and ellipses

Please share your ideas and responses in the comment section by clicking below.

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3 Responses to How to Draw an Ellipse: Linear Perspective Part II (Online art lesson #53)

  1. nylawitmore says:

    Thank you for providing all the links….which I watched AFTER I had made my first comment. Regarding the high speed painting of the daffodil from an earlier lesson… I watched it over and over, marveling at the beautiful brush work and sensitivity. Sure wish I could have seen it at half the speed. This would allow us all to see how exquisitely you handle the brush. Good brush technique makes such a difference.

    OH….and kudos to the student work. Everyone has grown so much under your tutilage. My trained eye can see progress and artistry from ALL of them. (I have really paid attention to their progress over the past couple of years. It shows.)

  2. What a treat to get this post on St. Patrick’s Day. I have just enough Irish in me to really appreciate this today. GREAT post! …and a heart-felt thank you to Nyla for her kind words about us students.

    I saw my first clump of BEE-U-TI-FUL daffodils in our neighborhood yesterday…YAY! Spring really IS on the way. btw, I really enjoyed seeing the videos again. I’m so glad you posted that…it’s always a joy to see a demo from you.

  3. Janette Rozene says:

    Another great lesson! I have been thinking about ellipses painting still lifes, but hadn’t thought about their importance for flowers. Thanks!

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