About Sight-Size

Article by Darren Rousar.

Mr. Lack critiquing James Childs Cast Drawing (1973).Richard Lack, a Gammell student, critiquing James Childs’ cast drawing (1973).
Special thanks to Gary Christensen and the Lack family for the use of this photograph.

Hello and welcome to sightsize.com! I am glad that you’re here. As far as I can tell, you are new to Sight-Size or want to learn more. Either way, you desire to draw, paint, or sculpt what you see. If so then this site is definitely for you and this page is your gateway to the site.

About the Site

My name is Darren Rousar and I began sightsize.com in 2007. My mission is to guide budding artists through the process of learning to draw what they see. Like many contemporary ateliers, I do that using Sight-Size. Whether you’ve just started your journey of learning how to draw what you see or are far down that path, I’m certain that you’ll find something of value on this site.

Within the site is an ever-growing collection of articles related to the Sight-Size approach. Many of those articles expand on the lessons I teach my own students. Others are of more historical interest. And yes, many contain promotional content to my free guide, books, and online courses. I want to help you learn how to see accurately so that you can successfully draw what you see. Therefore, all of the content I produce is centered on that.

About Sight-Size

Sight-Size is an arrangement of the artist, their subject and their artwork that allows the artist to see the subject and artwork visually one-to-one. You will see numerous examples and explanations of this type of arrangement throughout the site.

In addition to what follows below, What is Sight-Size? is an entire page dedicated to the principle elements of Sight-Size.

Why is learning to draw using Sight-Size so effective?

This question is best answered by briefly explaining one of the alternatives, which is variously called Comparative Measuring or Proportional Drawing. Regardless of the chosen term, the process is centered on scaling your artwork to your source. In other words, you are drawing what you see either larger or smaller than you actually see it.

Scaling, while an important skill to acquire, requires that you not only achieve an accurate shape but also enlarge or reduce that shape at the same time. Due to that, scaling needlessly complicates the process of learning to see. Here’s a page dedicated to the principle elements of Comparative Measurement if you’re interested in more information.

Conversely, Sight-Size more easily teaches you to accurately see because your drawing is meant to be done in the same size that you see the source. Your accuracy is assured because you do not have to visually scale at the same time. Once your eye is trained, should you then desire to draw proportionally it becomes a simple matter to scale your accurate vision.

And, when you can see accurately you can confidently draw anything you can see. You’ll not be limited to subjects for which you know the formula.

Sight-Size is the only approach to drawing that puts the focus firstly on objective, accurate sight. You will learn to see, and that’s what this site, as well as the Sight-Size approach itself is primarily about. Through the site’s ever increasing number of articles, you will read about Sight-Size artists of the past, as well as currently practicing artists who were trained to see in Sight-Size.

Who was Gammell and why is he frequently mentioned on this site?

R. H. Ives Gammell (1893-1981) was an American artist, teacher, and author. Although not as well-known as most of his contemporaries, Mr. Gammell had arguably a far greater impact on what has become the atelier movement. Two of my teachers were Gammell students, as are a number of my friends and sources. As such, much of what you read on this site was initially inspired by Mr. Gammell.

One of Gammell’s teachers and his mentor was William McGregor Paxton. Paxton had studied with Jean-Léon Gérôme in Paris. It is through Paxton that Gammell learned Sight-Size. Gammell then used the approach when teaching his own students, and many of them continue to do the same with theirs today.

But Sight-Size did not begin with Paxton. You can learn more about the history of Sight-Size on the History page.

Who am I?

I am an atelier-trained artist and teacher who writes books, creates courses, and manages this website in order to teach you how to draw and paint. I do this by first teaching you how to see using Sight-Size. I have written six books, my most recent being The Sight-Size Cast. I have been teaching students how to see since 1988, both in the States and in Florence, Italy. In the summer of 2018 I opened Atelier Rousar | online and launched its first online course, Sight-Size Cast Drawing. You can learn a bit more about me here.

Every time you look away from your subject you have to rely entirely on your visual memory. It only makes sense to train it. So in the summer of 2019 I released the Memory Drawing course and redesigned the Memory Drawing site. Both exist to help you make the most of every glance.

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Finally, here is a free guide that will get you started on your journey of learning how to draw through Sight-Size.

What You Should Do Now

  1. Have you picked up your free guide yet?
  2. Next in order would be What is Sight-Size?.
  3. You can learn more about the history of Sight-Size.
  4. Want more? There are over 100 articles on the site.
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Learn Sight-Size cast drawing through the
full-length book,
The Sight-Size Cast!

Learning how to accurately see, as well as draw, is best done through Sight-Size cast drawing. Ateliers exist worldwide to help you do that. But what if you cannot afford atelier training, or there is not an atelier nearby? Or, perhaps you are already in an atelier and would like to supplement that training?

You can learn how to see through Sight-Size, or enhance what you already know with Darren R. Rousar's book The Sight-Size Cast.