What happens when we squint? Most atelier students know the answer, or at least part of it. With this article I hope to open everyone’s eyes a little and to perhaps shed some light on the value of squinting.
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.
Much of the activity that takes place when learning to draw is centered on developing an accurate eye. In fact, when a teacher critiques a student’s work, he or she is essentially looking for inaccuracies. Over the last few articles I have outlined some specifics, relative to what a student can do to improve their visual accuracy, and in this article I’m going to layout an overall plan.
Intervals are the spaces between points. An accurate eye correctly sees not only singular points and intervals, but ever larger groups of them. Therefore, as you improve your eye’s accuracy for specifics, you should also seek to increase your ability to accurately see in larger segments.
Few skills are learned in bulk. They are learned one step at a time. Take learning to play the piano for example. We all know that budding pianists spend countless hours practicing scales. Why is it any different for learning how to draw?
There is a natural tendency when learning Sight-Size to measure first. But if you do this, you are drastically limiting your opportunity to train your eye to see. A better way is to habituate yourself to the guess and check.
As a private student of Richard Lack’s, one of the first things he impressed upon me was the art of starts. He preferred to begin students with the rudiments of Sight-Size cast drawing and through them, starts. As I recall, foremost in his mind was the idea that the start of a project was prime-time.
The third main requirement for a Sight-Size setup is a stable easel. If you are just starting out, it is likely that you do not yet have a formal studio. A basement or spare room will do just as well. This article is about creating an easel that will work in an unfinished basement.
Sight-Size is an arrangement of the artist, subject, and artwork which provides for a direct one-to-one comparison. However, for a Sight-Size setup to be most effective for learning how to see, the subject and artwork must be as visually close to each other as possible.
Without a shadow box, your light control options are limited to how you position your light source and how you position your objects. With a shadow box, you can control this. You can also produce some interesting background shapes which will give you further opportunities to learn to see.
While there was a time when chalk was preferred, charcoal is the now most common drawing medium used in ateliers. In fact, it is one of man’s earliest drawing mediums, as evidenced by many cave drawings as well as the ease with which simple charcoal can be produced – the remains of a campfire.
The still life stand is the most common piece of studio equipment found in today’s ateliers. Although designs vary, the basic function remains the same – to provide a stable support for casts and still life objects.