Darren R. Rousar, working on the painting, The Holy Family.
Darren R. Rousar began studying representational art at age 16 with Annette LeSueur. He then studied privately with Richard Lack, at Atelier Lack, and after high school attended Atelier LeSueur. After four years at Atelier LeSueur he spent a year at Studio Cecil-Graves in Florence, Italy. He has taught students how to see using Sight-Size for over 30 years, in three countries, to students who range in ages from 8 to their mid-80s. Darren is the author of six books, four of which are based on Sight-Size, and runs an online art atelier. He is also the creator of this website.
My first exposure to Sight-Size came in 1980, when I was 16 years old. I had run through all of the available art classes at my high school and the teacher recommended me for a special, off-campus program. I was allowed to take any course at the local art center, on the school’s dime and during school hours.
The course I chose was Artistic Anatomy, run by Annette LeSueur, who was a student of Richard Lack. In reality, the course was a three level introduction to Sight-Size, figure drawing and anatomy.
Class began with basic instruction in Sight-Size figure drawing while in front of the live model. This was followed by an hour and a half working on a pencil drawing, still in front of the model.
After the session, Annette gave a lecture on anatomy. For homework, we were to begin a skeletal anatomy tracing over our figure drawing. As I recall, we spent four weeks on that drawing, and in the end we had also completed a muscle overlay in addition to the skeletal. Numerous other Sight-Size figures followed, along with their attendant anatomical overlays.
Annette was my introduction, not only to Sight-Size, but also to Richard Lack. He agreed to take me on as a private student. I would go on to spend two to three afternoons a week at his atelier, under his tutelage, learning how to see via Sight-Size cast drawing. That was in 1981 and ’82.
When I studied with Mr. Lack, he believed that starts were important. Therefore, he had me begin numerous cast drawings and did not allow me to bring the majority of them to a tighter finish. The drawings below represent some of those starts. I do not recall working more than a couple sessions on each of those drawings.
Mr. Lack has now passed, but he has a multitude of former students who owe him a great debt. You can read more about him in this article over here.
After high school (and a year at commercial art school) I sought out Annette and learned that she had opened her own atelier. I spent four years there, being taught by her and the numerous, former Lack students who passed through her school as teachers. David Erickson and Jeffrey Larson were two of them.*
Most of our projects were done in Sight-Size, including casts, pencil and charcoal figure drawing, painted figures, still life, portraits, and interiors. We spent a lot of time on anatomy, going so far as to participate in a dissection of a cadaver at a local chiropractic collage. We also did a fair amount of portrait and figure drawing via Comparative Measuring. Night classes at Atelier Lack filled in whatever gaps I might have had at the time.
In this photo you can see me working on a study, in Sight-Size, for a larger painting.
After Annette’s I went on my own grand tour of Europe. That trip ultimately led me to Florence, Italy and Studio Cecil-Graves.
Charles H. Cecil is a former student of both R.H. Ives Gammell and Richard Lack. Daniel Graves is a former student of Nerina Simi and Richard Lack. These two Americans teamed up in the early eighties to found Studio Cecil-Graves. The atelier was based off of principles they learned from their teachers. One of those was Sight-Size. Another was using traditional materials, though that’s a story for a different version of my autobiography.
I studied with Charles and Dan during 1989 and 1990. Shortly after I left Florence, they split. Charles went on to found Charles H. Cecil Studios (where, in 1995 and 1996 I would serve as Assistant Director). Dan created the Florence Academy of Art. Both institutions are still going strong and both still base their instruction on Sight-Size.
In this photo I am working on a Sight-Size study for the painting, Porta Croce.
Skipping ahead a little more than a decade, I decided that Sight-Size needed a book. As with anything else that is passed from master to student, if the tradition is not written down the story gets changed. So I consulted Richard Lack and Charles Cecil, other former Gammell students I knew, and the copious notes I had taken during my various atelier experiences. The result was my first book, Cast Drawing Using the Sight-Size Approach. Sight-Size and the Art of Seeing, its companion DVD, followed shortly thereafter. Two years later, I wrote and released the follow up book, Cast Painting Using the Sight-Size Approach. These materials are currently used in numerous ateliers, academies and art schools, worldwide. Equally important is that I am honored to have been able to help over ten thousand individuals learn to see through Sight-Size.
Near the end of 2016 I released an ebook titled, The Sight-Size Cast. It is a completely rewritten and greatly expanded compilation of my first two books, Cast Drawing Using the Sight-Size Approach and Cast Painting Using the Sight-Size Approach. For more information, see here.
Since my second year at Atelier LeSueur I have always taught. Often, that teaching was cast drawing, though I have also taught all of the other common atelier subjects. Regardless of the subject, Sight-Size remains the backbone of my teaching because I believe that to draw, paint, or sculpt well, one must first learn to see. And, although not the only way, Sight-Size is the best way to do that.
*Dave and Jeff appear near the bottom of the History page, in a photo which was taken while they were still students at Atelier Lack.