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.
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.
“Nature deals in broken color everywhere, but she never deals in broken values. The color dances, but the values stay put.” That aphorism, or a version of it, is something that every student should regularly hear mentioned in all Gammell-based ateliers.
Did you know that you were born into a manner? So was everyone else. Your manner is that which you naturally do, untrained. Even when trained, much of your time is spent compensating for that manner. Of course, I’m writing about seeing, drawing, and painting. And whether you are aware of it or not, the main goal of learning how to see is to release you from that manner.
Every once in a while an artist becomes more popular for what they write than for what they paint. I think Harrington Mann (1864-1937) falls into that category. Although during the later half of his life he was a popular portrait painter, his 1933 book, The Technique of Portrait Painting, may have saved him from ending up a mere footnote in the history of art.
Most art students first set out to learn how to draw. It’s a good goal, and succeeding at it will lead to many good things. But that’s not the full story. You must first learn to see. And if you want to learn how to see, then you need to perfect the feedback loop.
Learning how to accurately see is at once a simple process and a complicated endeavor. The process is simple because all you’re really doing is aligning your eye to a visual standard. But complexities arise because your eye tends to believe itself far too easily. Therefore, over the centuries artists have devised numerous tools of the trade to help overcome this.
On November 12, 2007 I released Cast Drawing Using the Sight-Size Approach, the first book to be focused exclusively on Sight-Size cast drawing. On the same day I inaugurated sightsize.com. Since then I have written and published five other books, produced a DVD, and republished three books that were then out-of-print. It is now ten years later.
Sir Joshua Reynolds appears in every account of the history of Sight-Size. Why? Because numerous sitters wrote of their experiences sitting to him. He stood while painting. He placed his canvas side-by-side with his sitter. He continually viewed the arrangement from a distant vantage point. All told, Sir Joshua Reynolds practiced textbook Sight-Size.
Through the other articles in this series I have described the two main approaches to modeling as well as presented some of the history behind them. This article focuses on a single artist who managed to model using both approaches, each during two different stages of his career: the two faces, or periods, of Velazquez.