Back in the mid 90s I taught alongside Charles Cecil at his atelier in Florence, Italy. The teaching pattern there followed that which I had previously experienced in my own education at various ateliers. Students received critiques of their work 4 times per week. Beyond that, they were left to work on their projects by themselves. It’s a fine system, but it can be a bit of a shock to beginners. So I’ve created something to help and I’ll tell you more about that shortly.
New to Sight-Size?
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.
What is Sight-Size? Sight-Size is simply an arrangement of the artist, subject and artwork that allows the artist to see their subject and artwork one-to-one.
Exactly when the first artist decided to place their artwork visually next to their subject is impossible to determine. Nevertheless, we can follow history back in time and see the possible origins of Sight-Size.
As a student of Charles H. Cecil’s, one of the directions you would regularly hear was to stand back a “heroic distance.” In my mind, along with the command, I see Charles walking forward towards the student’s setup and at the same time swinging his arm back behind him. That gesture was meant to push the student back while Charles pointed out something on their artwork or on the model.
Having a picture plane which is not perpendicular to your line of sight causes size issues. Fortunately, most ateliers that teach Sight-Size make sure that their students set up their easels vertically, with the picture plane perpendicular to the floor and to their line of sight. But what happens when you draw on a drawing board which is titled?
Most people see in stereo. But for representational artists, that is not always a good thing. Why? Because stereo vision gives you two visual points of view. And since your paper is flat, seeing both can be problematic. Better is to pick an eye and stick with it.
There is a natural tendency when learning Sight-Size to measure first. But if you do this, you are drastically limiting your opportunity to train your eye to see. A better way is to habituate yourself to the guess and check.
One issue many students face when first attempting Sight-Size is keeping their plumb line level. The problem is the relative strength of your dominate arm, and oftentimes the result is a drawing that is higher on the paper than is the subject. The solution is to level up!
A walk through just about any atelier or art academy will likely reveal numerous plaster casts hung on the walls. Why they are being used and why were the particular casts chosen over others? The answers often have little to no impact on today’s students, but that was not the case in the past.
You Can Draw With Confidence!
And you can begin today!
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.