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.
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 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.
The previous articles on modeling dealt with the practicalities — how one goes about modeling via form over value, and value over form. This article explains the history and reasonings behind those two approaches. I refer to their adherents as the artists of the mind and the artists of the eye.
Most Sight-Size trained artists model using the value over form approach. Modeling in this way helps the artist maintain the big-look (which is representing the image as a whole ensemble), as well as the unity of effect. This approach naturally reduces the chance of falling into piecemeal seeing.
Modeling is the act of turning form through value or line, a process which is integral to representing your impression of the scene as well as the illusion of form. Although there is some crossover, there are essentially two approaches to modeling: form over value, and value over form. As its name implies, form over value modeling tends to prioritize the representation of form over that of value. The opposite is true for value over form modeling.
In the previous articles I have explained that seeing impressionistically is contingent upon seeing contextually. For that I dealt primarily with seeing shape, value, and edge. Finally, some might say, we come to seeing color impressionistically.