BY C. C. BECK
In perspective, theoretically the vanishing point is at infinity, and therefore unattainable. But reality is different; vanishment occurs a lot sooner than theory suggests ...
Illustrated by Martinez
hat? Oh, that's a perspective machine. Well, not exactly, but that's what I call it. No, I don't know how it works. Too complicated for me. Carter could make it go, but after he made it he never used it. Too bad; he thought he'd make a lot of money with it there for awhile, while he was working it out. Almost had me convinced, but I told him, "Get it to working first, Carter, and then show me what you can do with it better than I can do without it. I'm doing pretty well as is ... pictures selling good, even if I do make 'em all by guesswork, as you call it." That's what I told him.
Y'see, Carter was one a them artists that think they can work everything out by formulas and stuff. Me, I just paint things as I see 'em. Never worry about perspective and all that kinda mechanical aids. Never even went to Art School. But I do all right. Carter, now, was a different sorta artist. Well, he wasn't really an artist—more of a draftsman.
I first got him in to help me with a series of real estate paintings I'd got an order for. Big aerial views of land developments, and drawings of buildings, roads and causeways, that kinda stuff. Was a little too much for me to handle alone, 'cause I never studied that kinda things, ya know. I thought he'd do the mechanical drawings, which shoulda been simple for anybody trained that way, and I'd throw in the colors, figures and trees and so on. He did fine. Job came out good; client was real happy. We made a pretty good amount on the job, enough to keep us for a coupla months without working afterwards. I took it easy, fishing and so on, but Carter stayed here in the studio working on his own stuff. I let him keep an eye on things for me around the place, and just dropped in now and then to check up.
The guy was nuts on the subject of perspective. I thought he knew all there was to know about it already, but he claimed nobody knew anything about it, really. Said he'd been studying it for years, and the more he learned about it the more there was to learn. He used to cover big sheets of paper with complicated diagrams trying to prove something or other to himself. I'd come into the studio and find him with thumb tacks and strings and stuff all over the place. He'd get big long rulers and draw lines to various points all over the room, and end up with a little drawing of a cube about an inch square that anybody coulda made in a half a minute without all the apparatus. Seemed pretty silly to me.
Then he brought in some books on mathematics and physics and other things, and a bunch of slide rules, calculators, and junk. He musta been a pretty smart guy to know how to handle all those things, even if he was kinda dopey about other things. You know ... women and fishing and sports and drinking; he was lousy at everything except working those perspective problems. Personally, I couldn't see much sense to what he was doing. The guy could draw all right already, so I asked him what more did he want? Lemme see if I can remember what he said.
"I'm trying to get at things as they really are, not as they appear," he said. I think those were his words. "Art is an illusion, a bag of tricks. Reality is something else, not what we think it is. Drawings are two-dimensional projections of a world that is not merely three- but four-dimensional, if not more," he said.
Yeh, kind of a crackpot, Carter was. Just on that one subject, though; nice enough guy otherwise. Here, look at some of the drawings he made, working out his formulas.