Perceptual Interpretation

According to Erwin Panofsky (.Studies in Iconology. Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance. Icon Editions. 1972), there are two major ways of interpreting perceptual experience: in terms of either formal or factual meaning.

Formal perception is a conglomerate of certain patterns of color, line, and volume that constitutes an image. It captures the silhouette of the image and carries no specific meaning or message. This experience takes place during the first instant of an entire perceptual sequence It is followed immediately by factual perception, during which the viewer begins to understand the experience. Factual perception involves identifying certain visible objects known from previous experience, as well as relationships between these objects and cues within the image. Its meaning is often unique to a given culture.

Perceptual Painting

Formal perception can be subdivided into four parts: mass, line, shape, and tone. Mass refers to the figure/ground relationship. It separates the object (mass) from the space (ground). It categorically groups objects that share similar features without differentiating materials, details, and intervening spatial edges (Figure b) Line concerns the predominant orientation(s) of the major structures (Figure c). Shape expresses the character of each object within the picture frame (Figure d), while tone identifies the logical light source and creates the sensation of depth (Figure e).

Perceptual Interpretation

Composition of Identifiable Units

The secondary level of visual interpretation involves subject matter and meaning. These are identifiable components of the image and are located in all three levels of our visual field: foreground, middle-ground. and background. The position of the viewer determines the degree of complexity of the image and the extent of juxtapositioning. It also determines the size of the picture and controls the perspective. It is important to learn how to see these components as individual units as well as a totality. The ability to dissect a scene visually and put it back together in a simplified fashion is the key to the technique of sketching.

Sketching Mouth
Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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