Sight-Size cast drawing is used to teach students how to see shape and value. Oftentimes still life painting in Sight-Size is a common next step, and it is used to teach atelier students how to correctly see color notes. But Sight-Size still life is not only a student-level task. Many professional artists use Sight-Size for still life painting as well.
Sight-Size Artists of the Past
Many artists who are no longer with us used Sight-Size. These articles show photographs and contemporaneous accounts of those past Sight-Size artists.
Every once in a while an artist becomes more popular for what they write than for what they paint. I think Harrington Mann (1864-1937) falls into that category. Although during the later half of his life he was a popular portrait painter, his 1933 book, The Technique of Portrait Painting, may have saved him from ending up a mere footnote in the history of art.
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.
Few artists of the last half of the twentieth-century had as much impact on representational art as did Richard F. Lack (1928-2009). Despite that, neither his name nor his works are as well-known as are some of his contemporaries like Andrew Wyeth. That is a shame, because were it not for him and his teacher, R. H. Ives Gammell, contemporary art would not be what it currently is today.
In 1905 John Singer Sargent was commissioned to paint the portrait of Joseph Pulitzer. The sittings would take place in Sargent’s Tite Street studio in London. By this time in his career, Sargent had tired of portraiture. To make matters worse, Pulitzer was irascible. He was also blind.
It is likely that you have never heard of Archibald Standish Hartrick. That is not surprising, and I suspect that he was not as well-known in his lifetime as were many of his friends and contemporaries – Sargent and Whistler among them. Nonetheless, He made an outstanding contribution to the written record of Sight-Size.
Charles Hopkinson was born in 1869, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After graduating from Harvard he began his formal artistic training at the Art Students’ League in New York. While at the ASL he studied cast drawing under Twachtman and the figure under Mowbray.
Back in 2007, Mr. Hunter (and American Artist) gave me permission to reproduce an interview he did with Richard Goetz of American Artist Magazine. The copyright remains with American Artist, 1970. Other than the diagram, none of the following images were in the original article.
John Collier (1850-1934) studied at The Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany and at the Slade school under Edward Poynter. He was a respected portrait painter and painted many of the famous people of his time.
Leopold Seyffert studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts under Thomas Anschutz, William Merritt Chase and Cecilia Beaux. In early to mid-twentieth-century America he was very much in demand as a portrait painter.
Jules Garibaldi (Gari) Melchers, like John Singer Sargent, was one of those late nineteenth-century American painters who spent years abroad perfecting their craft and establishing their career.
In 1903 Frederick Fiske Warren commissioned Sargent to paint a group portrait of his wife and daughter. The sittings took place in a room of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Fenway Court. Midway through the painting a photographer was brought in to document the process. Notice the placement of the canvas, the models and Sargent himself.