One of the first things beginning painters want to know is how to physically put paint on the canvas. There are many options: you might stroke it, dab it, or scrub it, etc. In a sense, your brush stroke is like your handwriting which differs with each individual. Such was the case with Bunker’s fishhooks.
Articles about Sight-Size
Here is an ever-growing collection of articles related to the Sight-Size approach. Many of these 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. You can learn how to see accurately so that you can successfully draw what you see. Therefore, all of the content I produce is centered on helping you do that.
Light is something artists know a lot about. It often reveals itself opposite of shadow, which makes the representation of three-dimensional form fairly straightforward. One can see the result in any number of high-contrast student cast drawings done in many of today’s ateliers. Successfully representing form in a fully lit, low-contrast environment is far more complex. It is a complexity at which Allan R. Banks excels. It is also one of the aspects which ranks him a master in the craft of picture-making.
What is a sharp? There are many answers, each specific to one of our senses (the same is true for the opposite – soft). Foods, like some cheeses, can taste sharp. Roadkill can smell sharp. A musical note can sound sharp. The edge of a razor can feel sharp. The edge between two distinct forms can look sharp. In all cases, the concept of sharpness is relative. Equally important is that in all cases sharpness is not ever-present.
Many children in America learn to play baseball early in life. One of the first principles commonly taught is to not choke the bat. Choking the bat means gripping it too close to the top. But there are situations when choking the bat may be a good thing and some players routinely do it. The way an artist grips their instrument is as important as a baseball player’s grip on the bat. And as in baseball, it’s important to know when to choke the bâton.
Although some may prefer to always work in Sight-Size, not all do or are able to all the time. Furthermore, not every subject or scene lends itself to the Sight-Size arrangement. In those cases the only other option is comparative measurement. Scaling your drawing should be no trouble for you if you’re skilled in seeing through Sight-Size. Since it is a distinct skill, however, it only makes sense to train that ability. And once you do, you’ll have gained a comparative eye.
A small error at any point in the process of creating your drawing can have an adverse effect on the result. It does not really matter when the error takes place, but the earlier the error the larger its effect will be. This concept, that a small change can have large consequences, is known as the butterfly effect.
Many beginners see starts as merely a means to an end. But the art of starts goes well beyond learning how to see, for how well you start can affect how well you finish. That’s especially true for cast drawings. Therefore, let’s revisit the art of starts with an eye towards learning how to do them for practice.
One of the advantages of attending an atelier is partaking in an established system of regular critiques. Such critiques are arguably the most beneficial part of one’s training because it is through them that the master’s eye gets passed down to the next generation. Given their importance it’s wise to wonder, “what is a critique?”
The modern day theory of mastery prescribes 10,000 hours of practice. That’s not a magic number, of course, it’s merely a guideline. But more important than the number of hours of practice is the quality of that practice. Practice needs to be focussed and deliberate. And you must also fail. In fact, better than 10,000 hours of practice are 10,000 failures. Even better is to use your failures.
“It will be like scales falling from your eyes” was a statement I frequently heard during my years in various ateliers and it is something I tell my own students. That’s fairly straightforward. But let’s look a little closer to better understand how it applies to learning to see.