Whether we’re aware of it or not, each painting tells us where we’re supposed to stand. A painting whose artist was aware of the visual impression will position the viewer at the same place on the floor where the artist stood. It’s only at that distance where the painting comes into its proper focus.
All the Articles on the Site
Here is an ever-growing collection of 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 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.
John Collier (1850-1934) studied at The Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany and at the Slade school under Edward Poynter. He was a respected portrait painter and painted many of the famous people of his time.
Leopold Seyffert studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Thomas Anschutz, William Merritt Chase and Cecilia Beaux. In early to mid-twentieth-century America he was very much in demand as a portrait painter.
Jules Garibaldi (Gari) Melchers, like John Singer Sargent, was one of those late nineteenth-century American painters who spent years abroad perfecting their craft and establishing their career.
In 1903 Frederick Fiske Warren commissioned Sargent to paint a group portrait of his wife and daughter. The sittings took place in a room of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Fenway Court. Midway through the painting a photographer was brought in to document the process. Notice the placement of the canvas, the models and Sargent himself.
Henrietta Rae’s interest in art began at an early age. After two years of drudgery at the Queen Square School, she began studying art in the Antique Galleries of the British Museum. She was only 15 at the time.
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.
Sickert’s instructions for how to go about drawing the figure, attributed to Lord Leighton, are textbook Sight-Size. True enough, putting your easel eighteen feet away from the model and then standing an arm’s length away from it, results a seven to ten inch figure.
Gilbert Stuart was one of America’s great portrait painters. This self portrait was done while Stuart was in England, studying with another American ex-patriot painter, Benjamin West.
Sir Gerald Festus Kelly was born in London in 1879. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. In 1901, Gerald’s father, the Vicar of Camberwell, sent him to France to study painting.