00 – Introduction (The Suggestion of Space)

Free Preview

Depth in painting is illusion. After all, painting is no more than applying paint to a flat surface. Yet it is possible to suggest depth on that flat surface, in two ways: through plastic and through perspective.

The Ghent altar by Jan van Eyck

The shutters of the Ghent altar by Van Eyck clearly visualize three variants:

  • the framework in which the paintings are contained appears two-dimensional;
  • the figures (and especially those with the white robes) are spatial and plastic;
  • at the back of a grand hall we see a window with a view of an even more unlimited distance.

It all seems very spatial except for the framework, but the reality is exactly the opposite: the frames are the only part that is truly three-dimensional, everything else is paint on a flat surface. All space here is an illusion

Matthijs Röling Arnout van Albada

This course examines a number of rules of thumb that can be used to suggest both plastic (the curvature of shapes) and perspective (the suggestion of space and depth).

Meindert Hobbema

Suggesting depth can be done in two ways (which are often applied simultaneously)
One working method is optical and is based on the use of contrasts, detailing versus fading, the use of warm and cool colours, and so on. This method is mainly used for landscapes.

Elizabeth Jerome

The other method is geometric, the linear perspective means that parallel lines meet at a single point on the horizon (and even more of these lines). This knowledge is needed when depicting virtually everything made by human hands: from roads to buildings to furniture to still lifes.


When painting people, knowledge of perspective is also important, especially when it is shortened.
When you paint from a photograph or a projection of a photograph, you soon get large perspective distortions, which arise because a camera catches the incoming light differently than the eye.
Such distortions (everything far too large in the foreground and far too small in the distance) do not occur when drawing and painting after observation.

Jenny Salville………………………………………………………………………………Lucian Freud

And in many cases all three forms of suggestion are applied simultaneously in a single image.
As Jan van Eyck did (see above).

Admission test

Visual art can be practiced free of any obligation and for one’s own pleasure, but the purpose of this programme goes beyond that.
Here we focus on a development on a (semi) professional level: either to make it your profession, or to be able to work at that level.
In order to check whether this programme is useful to you, we ask you to carry out an assignment as a test beforehand.
If this gives you promising prospects, we welcome you warmly.


Put some objects on your windowsill and draw that, along with the view.
And send the image of it.

Submission Form

    Depending on the response to this assignment, you can register for this lesson program (see: purchase this course).

    Back to: The Suggestion of Space > The Suggestion of Space