Part 2

Project: Drawing and painting interiors

Research point 4:

1. Dutch painters of domestic interiors:

Pieter Janssens Elinga (1623-82)

Elinga painted mainly domestic interior scenes focussing on the geometric forms of floor tiles and windows. These appear to be of his own house and feature many repetitions of the same windows and items of furniture though possibly moved around eg 1. and 2. above appear to be the same room on first glance with the same mirror, windows, doorway position, table and chairs but actually the pictures on the wall are different and the gap between left window and doorway is different. In 3. and 4. again appear the same (chest and covering cloth, chairs, ceiling) but view out of window changes, floor tile pattern and size of frames on RHS wall change too.

A couple of paintings include his wife sitting reading and most include the maid sweeping the floor, I guess she could be told to remain at the chore where as his wife had other ideas. He does not appear to be a fan of painting face detail with most figures facing away or in shadow.

Each one includes the play of light coming in from the tall windows as it falls upon walls and floors. Great attention has been played to getting these angles correct although this must have been hard as the light changed throughout the day. The shadows of the chairs seem to dance and flicker on the wall as the light changes with the moving clouds in the sky.

Great attention to the perspective of the rooms has been paid, accentuated by the regular patterns of the floor tiles. This perspective gives the rooms a great feel of space and room.

This type of 3D painting using perspective really fascinates me. Painting inside a box such that when viewed through peep hole/s on the side the perspective of the room and furniture appears true. (Not supposed to be viewed from the open front, that’s just to let light in, where perspective will be out).

I found this plan of a perspective box by Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten and made it up to see if it really worked – yes! incredible, (though very blurred in this rough mockup). Viewed from RHS peep hole, the floor pattern continues correctly off into the next room and the chair appears to stand on the floor.

Johannes Vermeer (1632-75)

This is a lavish, wealthy household, shown by the marble flooring and quality rug over the chest. A young girl is having a music lesson on a Virginal, watched over by a man who has his mouth slightly apart as is perhaps singing along. Music lessons of this type were reserved for the wealthy.

The chair and detail on the rug have been painted with the expensive Ultramarine pigment that Vermeer liked to use. The pattern of the floor leads the eye towards to back of the scene, and as the man is facing sideways, the eye is further drawn to the lady. This sense of space is further implied by the size of the jug in the foreground.

In the mirror we can see the reflection of the face along with the rug. There is also part of the artists easel leg showing that this is a scene just as the artist saw it.

This painting uses linear perspective to draw the eye backwards. The vanishing point is approx by the girls left elbow.

2. Interiors from different periods – how the illusion of space is created:

Petrus Christus, Virgin and Child in a Domestic Interior, 1460

A long corridor leading away in the background together with the large four poster bed tell us that this is a big place.

Rudolf von Alt, Salon in Venice, 1869

Dead centre of this painting is the far diagonal corner of the room. The left wall is long – there are many large paintings hung there which tells us that the room is large. The left of the room contains lots of furniture whilst the right is bare showing us that this is a massive room.

Jeanine Sobell Pastore, Interior, approx 2014

The stairway then door on the right lead the eye onward past a fireplace to the french windows that shower light over the room. The highly polished floor reflects the light.

Anthony Green, Victory in Europe / The Greens 1945, 1981

This is one of many interiors by Anthony Green that show multiple perspectives therefore including all sides of the room together with floor and ceiling. The irregular shapes of his surface help the eye to dart around the painting exploring all corners. In this painting, the open doorway shows us that there are more rooms beyond and give it a realistic feel of a home.

Roy Lichtenstein, Interior with mirrored wall, 1991

All the straight lines lead the eye diagonally to the left where a wall mirror extends the length of the room even further. The scale of the room is further enhanced by the addition of a shiny grande piano, which could only fit into a large room.


The perspective in this view has been changed slightly so that both the kitchen sink and the breakfast table can been seen – like a wide lens on a camera. The placement of the long corridor in the background leads the eye on and on in the distance.


Cazzaro, I. and Fabrizio, G.L. (2019) Fig. 1 Examples of perspective boxes dating back to the 17 th century. At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

Elinga, Pieter Janssens, ‘Perspective box’ – Museum Bredius EN (s.d.) At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

Interior with Mirrored Wall (1991) At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

Jeanine Sobell Pastore — Sloane Merrill Gallery (s.d.) At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

Lane, J. and Profile, V. my C. (s.d.) The Dutch Peep Show. At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

News – Sally Strand (s.d.) At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

Pieter Janssens Elinga – Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia (2017) At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

The Music Lesson (s.d.) At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

Wikipedia contributors (2017) Pieter Janssens Elinga. At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

Wikipedia contributors (2019) The Music Lesson. At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

Exercise: Quick sketches around the house

Not very clear photos, see sketchbook

Four standing views of my studio:

Four sitting views of my studio:

Research Point 5: Linear Perspective

The website below has a fabulous interactive model of linear perspective where you are move various reference points in a room model and see where that places the vanishing point as a result:

Linear perspective interactive (s.d.) At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

Definition from the following:

Linear Perspective | Teresa Bernard Oil Paintings (s.d.) At: (Accessed on 23 October 2019)

Linear perspective is a rendering technique used by fine artists to create the illusion of depth on a flat surface. It is the most basic form of perspective in which parallel lines appear to converge in the distance at a vanishing point on the horizon line. (See illustration right.) The technique is based on how the human eye perceives the world around us. Meaning objects which are closer to the viewer appear larger, while more distant objects appear to be getting smaller as they move away. Linear perspective comes into play when orthogonal (parallel) lines that recede into the distance appear to get closer together as they converge at a vanishing point on the composition’s horizon line. “

linear perspective

Exercise: Simple perspective in interior studies

From the previous sketches, I decided that this was the best view – lots of parallel lines to follow. I started off by printing this photo off and drawing on lots of linear perspective lines and pin pointing the horizon line about level with the top of the window – see sketchbook. I had taken the photo standing on a chair so that the lines of the shelves could be included.

I then drew the perspective lines onto an A1 paper using a ruler – note extra piece of paper taped to side as the vanishing point is off the page that side.

Using gouache on watercolour paper. Spent some time adding the shadows inside the shelves to ensure they looked 3D too. At this stage I was tempted to say it’s done as it’s about perspective rather than detail, but decided to add just some of the clutter to bring it to life just a bit.

I think most of the perspective is correct and the room looks right thanks to the time spent drawing out the lines first. The angle of the near side end of the shelves looks a little steep but perhaps this is because I have taken a step backwards (through the wall) – that end didn’t fit into the photo. The other part that is bugging me now is the vertical right side of the desk – it isn’t tall enough, I needed to take that base line down a bit so that the floor doesn’t look higher on that side of the room.

As far as painting was concerned, I’m still finding blending gouache on the page very hard. Obviously as it’s water based when you add another layer (of say a deeper tone) you can’t do a gradual blend as the base colour just wipes away. I struggled getting a smooth finish to the blue wall because of this – darker tones were at the far end and up by ceiling. Also doing the delicate straight lines of the front sides of the shelves was impossible and they certainly don’t stand up to close inspection! I think palette knife work is more me.

Wood effect on the desk I did using a dry rake brush with a little of a darker brown. Carpet I stippled to get a bit of variation of tones.

The exercise did say to keep colours muted or use a very limited palette – I’m finding this very hard to do. I see the world very much as vibrant colours and I can’t yet deal with toning it down. Together with black and white, I used: yellow ochre and blue lake. I added small amounts of burnt umber and ultramarine to change tones and medium yellow for the dead flowers. Maybe some practice doing monochrome is needed.


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