What is Sight-Size? Sight-Size is simply an arrangement of the artist, subject and artwork that allows the artist to see their subject and artwork one-to-one.
This collection of articles is the perfect place to begin if you're new to the Sight-Size approach to seeing.
Exactly when the first artist decided to place their artwork visually next to their subject is impossible to determine. Nevertheless, we can follow history back in time and see the possible origins of Sight-Size.
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.
As a student of Charles H. Cecil’s, one of the directions you would regularly hear was to stand back a “heroic distance.” In my mind, along with the command, I see Charles walking forward towards the student’s setup and at the same time swinging his arm back behind him. That gesture was meant to push the student back while Charles pointed out something on their artwork or on the model.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Of the many skills required for successful representational drawing and painting, determining distance is one of the most important. This is true when drawing out of one’s head and all the more when drawing from observation. In fact, when we draw we are constantly measuring.
One issue many students face when first attempting Sight-Size is keeping their plumb line level. The problem is the relative strength of your dominate arm, and oftentimes the result is a drawing that is higher on the paper than is the subject. The solution is to level up!
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.