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.
Instruction in Sight-Size
Sight-Size is as much about learning to draw and paint what you see as it is about actually drawing and painting. This collection of articles provides a wealth of information on the subject.
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.
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.
Mentioned before is the fact that Sight-Size is as useful for drawing all visual subjects as it is for cast drawing and portraiture. Why? Because it is the only arrangement which provides the eye of the painter with a one-to-one comparison between the subject and artwork.
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.
Of all the ways we have to check the accuracy of a guess for the placements of a shape’s salient points, triangulation is the most effective. It is an important concept to understand, whether you are Sight-Sizing at life-size, or not, for it allows you to plot all the salient points on your source in a relationally accurate way.
Gammell taught his students how to see by having them draw plaster casts in Sight-Size. To do so they were to follow specific and progressive steps. Each succeeding step led logically to the next, resulting in a finished cast drawing that was seen and rendered as a whole. This article more fully explores his cast drawing process.
Some claim that art can be created with just about anything. Whether that is true or not, having the proper supplies will make the task far easier. In this article I list the supplies needed for cast drawing and painting, as well as some recommendations for where you might purchase them.
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.
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?
When I was studying at the ateliers in the U.S. and in Florence (1980-1990), our go-to charcoal brands were Windsor & Newton and J. M. Paillard. Other brands, like Nitram and Grumbacher were also in use by some students and ateliers. Now that Paillard is gone, and Nitram has been resurrected, it’s time for a great charcoal shootout!
Since the publication of An Accurate Eye I have received numerous requests for additional exercise materials. To fill the need I have created a supplemental ebook. To access it for free, you will of course need to have first purchased a copy of An Accurate Eye.
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.