Bottom line: I am height-challenged in the literal sense. Yes, I know that when I accused my parents of always setting me up somewhere high for a picture, my mother corrected the record by providing a photo with comments on the back: unbelievably twas I who had demanded this. The rock was enormous but there was tiny me; it was a saw-off, as they had made me face the sun as usual, blue eyes tearing as usual. Anyone browsing my childhood pictures might conclude that I was an abused child.
Now maybe I'm just a slow thinker who didn't register the terror of falling for far too long, but now I am properly scared. And yet during the space of a year I find myself perching on chairs, ladders of all sorts, the kitchen counter, or hanging from a window frame while washing the outside of a casement window. Any woman can tell you that keeping house doesn't stop at the six foot mark.
So what does this have to do with art? Not much. I just needed a good reason to get off the back of that chair and breathe. But writing this did pique my curiosity about the general angle I choose to paint from. Turns out that it's pretty well always horizontal, although not always in the same plane. My brother took me to the AGO and one of the most interesting exhibits was the Colville. He had been a war artist and drew superbly. One working sketch was that of a stretcher carried by four men; it was pictured from above, as from a low bridge perhaps. Working in red conte he had corrected the perspective of the nearest man, enlarging the size of his head and adjusting its angle so it would describe him from directly above. It was exactly the right correction and knocked me dead.
Even working horizontally it's extremely hard to size body parts accurately when they are at differing distances. One of my watercolours is of a friend who danced for the National Ballet; I portrayed her with her hand extended forward. Jon insists that her hand is too big. I know it's correct. For one thing, it is stretched towards us. But still... If I paint it in oil, I might just split the difference.