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.
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. If you've not done so already, a perfect place to begin your journey is through a free guide to doing Bargue Plate copies in Sight-Size.
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.
Most online students do not have purpose-built studios in which to work. But the lack of a studio should not prevent you from coming up with something that will suffice.
One of the first shading techniques I was taught to use was called a rain from heaven. This meant shading in parallel lines, and usually at a 45 degree angle. As far as I can tell the phrase has now fallen out of fashion, regardless, what it represents is still valid.
Explaining the issues with piecemeal seeing to a student is sometimes difficult because our eyes are so trained to look at specifics – the can’t see the forest for the trees mentality. Unfortunately, when we see piecemeal we oftentimes forget that the visual aspect of the parts is always affected by the whole.
One of the things I did before writing Cast Drawing Using the Sight-Size Approach was to research some of the methods for teaching cast drawing outside of Gammell’s lineage. Rather than let the unused fruits of that research go to waste, I present some of it here.