It was seventh grade, 5th period art, and our teacher was going to help us understand how to make life look more three dimensional on the page. It sounded like magic so I was IN! She unraveled the rules of the vanishing point and how all lines lead to a single invisible spec of dust on the horizon. Single point perspective was defined as the country road heading off into the mountainside, the train tracks leading to the next city, the tunnel pointing to the infinite. I remember how much easier it was to draw once I grasped the logic of a straight line from object to vanishing point. She next introduced two point perspective and a slightly more complicated set of rules. Now two sets of vanishing points, “like two friends” she said, meet somewhere on the paper creating a center of interest. This usually looks like the corner of a building. Finally, three point perspective shows an object from two sides AND either the top or bottom. And voila! We have fully convincing three dimension reality! Just like in the movies.
So why did I take the time to reflect back on 7th grade art class? Today – let’s just say it’s only a couple decades later – I realized how drawing converging lines, identifying vanishing points doesn’t just help us to depict three dimensional space. Learning perspective helps us see and articulate what’s been right in front of us the entire time.
One of the most creative stories in literature is, in my opinion, a lesson in perspective. When Alice lands herself into Wonderland, she finds herself peeking into a small passage leading to “the loveliest garden you ever saw.” Far too large to fit through the rat-hole sized door she considers alternatives. “Drink me” coaxes to her from the table. She hesitates first, but as we all know the story she ultimately gives in to the invitation. “What a curious feeling!” she says as she shuts up like a telescope shrinking to now only 10″ high. And in one swift, fearless move she lets go of the fear of poison in favor of beginning an enlightened new adventure.
Yes, a fresh perspective can change us that fast!
A drop of insight can brighten previously darkened tunnels.
A seemingly insignificant comment can turn the corner on a conversation.
A single event can swiftly change the dimensionality of a relationship.