The Illusion of Depth in art (Second and Third Grade)

  • The Illusion of Space or Depth in a Work of Art

    Scarecrow Landscapes (Second Grade)
    Insect’s Perspective Landscapes (Third Grade)

    Have you ever looked at a painting or drawing and wondered how the artist made some things in the picture look close and other things look far away?  When this happens, the artist is creating the appearance of space or depth in their work.  There are different techniques or “tricks” that artists use to make things in their art work look that way:

    1.  Big things in a picture look close.  Small things in a picture look far away.
    2.  Things with lots of details on them look close.  Things with few details on them look far away.
    3.  Things that are closer to the bottom edge of the picture look closer.  Things that are further from the bottom edge of the picture look far away.
    4.  Things with darker colors look closer.  Things with lighter colors look further away.
    5.  Things that overlap or cover up something else look closer.  Things that are overlapped or covered up by something else look farther away.

    The second and third graders recently studied some paintings by two American artists who used these techniques and then they used them in some of their own landscape pictures.  The paintings they studied were Stone City, Iowa by Grant Wood and Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth.

    The third graders created an “Insect’s Perspective” landscape in which they had to fill their paper with insects and grass.  In addition to using some of the techniques for creating the appearance of space in their work, the had to also draw anatomically correct insects (each insect had to have three body sections, six legs, antennae, etc).

    The second graders created a landscape which was split up into three or four areas.  The scarecrows in their pictures, which are supposed to be the closest appearing objects, were drawn onto a separate piece of paper and then glued onto their landscape.

    Insect's Perspective Landscape (Third Grade)

    Scarecrow Landscape (Second Grade)

    Here is a clip of comedian/magicians Penn and Teller explaining how colors look different depending on how close or far away they are.