Getting the right perspective on a pier

We tend to create images of piers leading away from the viewer. This is Old Fishing Pier by Carlin Blahnik.
I think we do this largely because humans are programmed to want a narrative. We are attracted to the image of the pier going from the known to the unknown. Plus it would be unnerving to take the photo from the end of the pier back towards the shore. You might fall in! Images like this are also a perfect illustration of one point perspective showing the pier decreasing in size towards the horizon. We like the symmetry.

As I promised to include some drawing/painting techniques this is a good place to teach those who want to know about how to create the diminishing size of the planks. In the diagram below the blue line is the horizon. The brown triangle the pier. First decide how wide you want your first plank to be and draw it in. Draw a line from the horizon down the middle of the triangle. Then run a straight line from the bottom right hand corner of the first plank, through the centre where the dividing line meets the far side of the plank to meet the left hand side of the triangle. This is the width of your second plank. Continue drawing the lines through the centre for as many planks as you want. You will see that the width of the planks decreases as you get further away. Of course your pier would not reach the horizon so you need to crop it off at the length you desire. You use the same technique for drawing a side view of the pier to show how the piles diminish in size and get closer together as the pier extends towards the horizon. I have not shown the thickness of each pile (which would also reduce) but just marked the far side of where each pile would drop down from the pier.
Back to looking at more images. I think we like the harmony of the planks lying side by side, But we also like the interruption of another subject as shown here in Top of Old Pier Playa Paraiso (Mexico) also by Carlin Blahnik.
Compare the two piers. The second one is made far more interesting by the inclusion of the sea bird. Notice also that Carlin has a low horizon (eye level) so the person looking along the pier is either very small or lying or sitting down. Horizons are extremely important in creating the view you want to achieve.

Images are also made more interesting by missing or rotting planks. Remember Jacob Glushakow from Baltimore who said he prefers to sketch rotting piers. Humans might like patterns but they also like surprises. Look what Carlin Blahnik has done with this image of the Old Fishing Pier. Now that we have seen three of her paintings of piers which one do you like best? I think the side view with the shadows underneath (mirroring the planks) makes for an interesting composition.

Would you believe that a painting of a pier could be controversial. Bob Dylan has made it so. In late 2016 early 2017 Bob Dylan held an art exhibition (The Beaten Path) in London. It depicted his view of American landscapes and urban scenes through drawings and paintings. This was one of the paintings titled Pier in Norfolk, Virginia (painted in 2015-16).
But here's the rub. Dylan's painting is an exact copy of a photo of Blackpool Pier taken by diamond geezer. Ooops! Not Norfolk, Virginia. Not Dylan's idea. And to keep my sheet clean- thank you Shakespeare for letting me borrow Hamlet's words!
It's worth reading the complete story which includes showing a second Dylan painting exactly the same but with people in it.

I like to view a pier from underneath and love the marks left by the water on the piles. Painting the texture on the piles can be so much fun. Whilst this image is not technically a pier as it is taken from one of my paintings of water mills (All About the Watermill), the effect is the same. I use Matisse Structure applied with a palette knife to get the texture. When it’s dry I apply the oil paint to blend in the colours I desire.
I've seen many paintings and photos of piers and their siblings (wharves and jetties) over the last couple of days. I thought I would conclude this little journey with a delightful painting by the very talented English artist Rupert Brown. This is his image of Southwold Jetties.
Rupert Brown is a watercolour artist from the Essex/Suffolk border in the UK. A graphic designer by trade, he specialises in the design and production of large-format illustrated books. I'm delighted to say that I have found an artist who has painted the jetty looking back to the shore in Otter. And so we return home.

Today's Hero Image is from my Dockland Developments painting. Notice the pier in the background and on it a narrative is occurring. The empty table on the deck leading to the pier is part of the story.

Tomorrow we are going onto birds via Alberto Morrocco who believe it or not was a Scot. And you will hear a wonderful tale about how not to trust the signature on a painting!

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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