Relational seeing is a hallmark of many ateliers that are influenced by the teachings of R. H. Ives Gammell. Seeing relationally requires that the specifics of every aspect of the scene relate to each other: All values are compared to the darkest dark. All edges are compared to the sharpest sharp. And so on.
Drawing with confidence requires accurately seeing relationships. The articles in this collection explain the concept.
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.
There are many ways to categorize artists. One of the most useful divisions describes the ways in which they tended to view their subjects. Although the specifics sometimes vary, there are essentially two: seeing the whole, and piecemeal seeing. This article explains the latter, using a painting by the eighteenth-century Italian master Pompeo Batoni.
The terms Impressionism and Impressionists normally refer to an art movement from the late nineteenth century, as well as to its adherents. Defining the qualities which make Impressionism impressionistic is a bit more difficult.
In simple terms, the impressionist draws or paints what he or she sees – but quite often not what he is directly looking at. First and foremost the impressionist is striving for something the 17th century art critic Roger de Piles called the unity of effect.
Context is everything to an impressionist painter. In fact, examples are everywhere if you know how to perceive them. Our perception of how light or dark, how warm or cool, and how sharp or soft something appears is impossible to define without reference to what surrounds the target — its context. Of all the ways used to describe how an impressionist sees, contextual seeing is perhaps the most descriptive.
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.
At their most basic levels, drawing and painting are initially all about creating the correct shape in the correct place. On their own, neither a shape nor placement suffice. To be completely accurate, both must be correct.
After spending enough time on this site, or at an atelier that comes down through R. H. Ives Gammell, you will soon notice phrases like, the big-look and piecemeal seeing. The former is always deemed to be good and the latter, bad. The surest way to avoid the bad and pursue the good is to work on the farthest back straggler first.
When using Sight-Size, a key way to visually check your work is to quickly flick your eye between it and nature (your source). Any errors will appear to visually ‘jump’ out of place. This act relies on a process known by cognitive psychologists as persistence of vision or the sparkler’s trail effect.
You Can Draw With Confidence!
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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.