You were born with two eyes. As you grew your eyes learned to focus on what you touched and your mind learned to connect what it perceived with what your eyes saw. You learned to see. And then, something changed.
Over time, your sight became so bombarded with stimuli that your mind learned to take shortcuts. On the whole, this was a very good thing. But as those shortcuts piled up, you forgot how to learn how to see. As a normally functioning person, you might not notice. As a budding artist, you most certainly will.
The visual blindness of the majority of people is greatly to be deplored, as nature is ever offering them on their retina a music of color and form that is a constant source of pleasure to those who can see it. But so many are content to use this wonderful faculty of vision for utilitarian purposes only.
Harold Speed (1913)
A: How a child might draw a person’s face. B: What was actually seen.
From Harold Speed’s book, The Practice and Science of Drawing.
There are numerous ways to learn how to draw. Some of them will also teach you how to see, and others will teach you what to expect to see. But can you really afford to learn how to draw in a way in which your eye subconsciously decides what you are seeing?
Learning to Draw in Sight-Size is Learning to See
It is teaching your eye to objectively observe, rather than to just subjectively receive.
I can make that statement because of what Sight-Size is. Sight-Size is an arrangement of the artist, the easel, and the subject that allows the artist to see the subject and artwork visually one-to-one. As such it prioritizes direct, accurate comparison and the perception of the whole over piecemeal seeing.
Charles Wellington Furse, in the studio, working on the painting, Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Fishing the River Laerdel in Norway (1903).
As you read through the rest of this site remember three things:
- Sight-Size is a way of arranging your easel, relative to your subject, which facilitates seeing and comparing your artwork to nature from a specific viewing position. Using Sight-Size, the size you see the subject is the size you draw, paint or sculpt it – a visually accurate, one-to-one comparison, regardless of whether the artwork is under, over, or life-size.
- Due to the above, Sight-Size allows you to accurately represent a given subject in the same way your eye sees it, as a complete visual impression.
- Sight-Size training involves measure, which can be mechanical or simply visual. The process of measure, which is comparing a known to an unknown, is standard practice in all other learning endeavors. Learning penmanship through copying letterforms, and music by practicing scales are two of the most obvious examples. That visual arts instruction for the last one hundred years has in many cases deviated from the measured approach to seeing, is a shame.
Not only is there but one way of doing things rightly, there is also only one way of seeing them, and that is, seeing the whole of them.
John Ruskin (1859)
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. On the site you will read about Sight-Size artists of the past, as well as currently practicing artists who were trained to see in Sight-Size. Through the site’s ever increasing number of articles, you will also read of the history, philosophy, and practice of Sight-Size.
Additionally, since a fully trained artist must not only know how to see, the site has articles which delve into other aspects of atelier training and the artist’s practice.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there are also various free tutorial articles, as well as number of books for sale that will help you on your quest to learn how to see.
Learning Sight-Size is not difficult. But, like anything else worthwhile, it takes time and concerted effort. It also takes direction from someone who knows what they’re doing, has a heart for it, and can teach it. With that in mind, perhaps you came to this page to learn about Darren? Darren R. Rousar is an atelier-trained artist who writes books to teach people how to draw and paint. He does this by first teaching them how to see. His most recent book is The Sight-Size Cast. Every other week he publishes an article on Sight-Size.com. For a more in-depth biography, see this article over here.
Now go forth. Dig into the site. See what you can learn.
The painting at the top of the page is by William McGregor Paxton, In the Studio, 1905.