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.
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.
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.
Contained within just over 300 pages, The Sight-Size Cast has everything you ever wanted to know about Sight-Size cast drawing and painting, impressionistic seeing, and the ways in which many of the ateliers that stem from R. H. Ives Gammell teach those subjects. Available now!
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.
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?
Have you noticed that the longer you work on a drawing the more difficult it is to see your errors? There are many reasons for this, from your eye tiring of the scene to cognitive dissonance. Whatever the reasons, we all need help in order to see our errors. To that end, R. H. Ives Gammell thought it essential to have a fresh guy with fresh eye.
As was his habit, when Philip Hale left his classroom he declared, “Beware of the bed bug line!” The classroom in question was the cast drawing room at Boston’s Museum School. The warning was meant to assure that his students never forgot to pay attention to the line which defines the division between the world of light and shade.