Scattered throughout a book of letters (written to Richard Whitney from R. H. Ives Gammell) is perhaps the best advice ever given to an aspiring painter: “Do your memory work for 10 to 15 minutes daily.” In fact, Mr. Gammell instructs Richard to bring some memory drawings with him to their very first meeting.
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Start here to learn all about the
Sight-Size approach to seeing.
Atelier training often begins with
cast drawing in Sight-Size.
Drawing with confidence requires
accurately seeing relationships.
All the Articles on the Site
Here is an ever-growing collection of over 100 articles related to the Sight-Size approach, as well as some digressions. 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 videos. You can learn how to see accurately so that you can confidently draw what you see. Therefore, all of the content I produce is centered on helping you do that.
Although Sight-Size is most often discussed as an approach to portrait painting, Sight-Size is not just for portraiture. In fact, the first written use of the term relates to figure drawing.
One early proponent of Sight-Size was Scottish painter Sir Henry Raeburn. The most extensive biography on Raeburn is Edward Pinnington’s, Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A. Written in 1904, it is still the most often quoted when it comes to writing about Raeburn’s painting technique.
The size of a drawing or painting done in Sight-Size can be equal to, larger than, or smaller than life size. Which size you are in depends entirely upon the placement of your easel, relative to your subject, and your viewing position. To understand that, you first need to understand exactly what Sight-Size is.
A single point of view is required for all forms of drawing what you see. One way of assuring that is by closing one eye. But closing one eye alone will not give you a consistent single point of view. You also need to position yourself in the same place throughout the process of working on the drawing or painting. One of the first to recommend this was Leon Alberti, in reference to what is now known as Alberti’s Veil.
Early on Bonnat studied in Madrid maintained a lifelong admiration for the Spanish artists Ribera and Velazquez. This admiration seems to have driven his approach to painting and teaching. In a preface for a biography on Velazquez he claimed that what Velazquez “sought before everything was character and truth.”
Darren R. Rousar began formal classical art training when he was 16 years old. He has been teaching Sight-Size for over 30 years, to students from age 8 to their mid-80s. Darren is the author of numerous books and instructional videos. He is also the creator of this website as well as the Memory Drawing website.
One of my private students once told me of an experience that he had which showed him how much our sight is influenced by what we know. During one of his classes at university, his professor explained how our perceptions are susceptible to prior knowledge. He proved that what we intellectually learn can influence what we see (or think we see).
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries numerous artists and instructors wrote instructional manuals attempting to show the general populace how to draw. Many of those authors incorporated aspects of Sight-Size into their teaching. Edwin George Lutz, author of Practical Drawing, was one such popular arts teacher.
You Can Draw With Confidence!
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You can learn cast drawing in Sight-Size at home!
Learning how to accurately see, as well as draw, is best done through cast drawing in Sight-Size. Ateliers exist worldwide to help you do that. But what if you cannot attend an atelier? Or, perhaps you're already in an atelier and would like to supplement that training? I can help.