Hello and welcome to sightsize.com! I am glad that you’re here. As far as I can tell, you are new to Sight-Size or want to learn more. Either way, you desire to draw, paint, or sculpt what you see, and to do that you’ll need to see more accurately. If so then this site is definitely for you, and this page is your gateway to the site.
But first we need to get a few basic questions out of the way.
Who am I?
My name is Darren R. Rousar and I am an atelier-trained artist and teacher who writes books and manages a website that teach you how to draw and paint. I do this by first teaching you how to see using Sight-Size. I have written six books, my most recent being The Sight-Size Cast. I have been teaching students how to see since 1988, both in the States and in Florence, Italy. Every other week I publish an article on this website. You can learn a bit more about me here.
What is Sight-Size?
Sight-Size is an arrangement of the artist, the easel, and the subject that allows the artist to see the subject and artwork visually one-to-one. You will see numerous examples and explanations of this type of arrangement throughout the site.
In the meantime, take a look at the pair of photographs below which show a typical Sight-Size cast drawing setup. On the left is the setup as seen from the artist’s viewing position when drawing. For this drawing, that position was ten feet back from the setup. The right-most photograph shows that the drawing and the cast were placed physically next to each other. The resulting drawing is considered to be life-size, which is both visually and physically one-to-one with the source. Note that the same principle applies to still life, portraiture, figure, and landscape.
A life-size Sight-Size cast drawing setup.
As is shown on the right, the vertical plane of the drawing board is aligned with the middle of the cast.
As common as it is to do life-size projects in Sight-Size, smaller than life-size projects are also done quite often, especially for figure drawing and landscapes. The drawing is smaller than life when the easel is closer to the artist’s viewing position than is the cast.
Larger than life projects are also possible in Sight-Size, although they are rarely done. The drawing is larger than life-size when the easel is farther away from the artist’s viewing position than is the cast.
Why is learning to see using Sight-Size effective?
This question is best answered by explaining the alternative, which is variously called Comparative Drawing, Proportional Drawing, and Comparative Measuring. Regardless of the chosen term, the process is centered on scaling the source to your artwork. In other words, you are drawing what you see either larger or smaller than you actually see it. Scaling, while an important skill to acquire, requires that you not only achieve an accurate shape but also enlarge or reduce that shape at the same time. This needlessly complicates the process of learning to see.
Conversely, Sight-Size teaches you to accurately see because your drawing is meant to be done in the same size that you see the source. Your accuracy is more easily assured because you do not have to visually scale at the same time. Once your eye is trained, should you then desire to draw proportionally it becomes a simple matter to scale your accurate vision.
Again, you can read much more about this in various articles on the site, most especially here.
Who was Gammell and why is he frequently mentioned on this site?
R. H. Ives Gammell (1893-1981) was an American artist, teacher, and author. Although not as well-known as most of his contemporaries, Mr. Gammell had arguably a far greater impact on what has become the atelier movement. Two of my teachers were Gammell students, as were a number of my friends and sources. As such, much of what you read on this site was initially inspired by Mr. Gammell.
One of the best ways to learn to see through Sight-Size is by using Bargue plates. Rather than explain that here, I have a free guide called Steps to Seeing that you can access by subscribing to the site over here.
Having said that, the best way to learn to see is through Sight-Size cast drawing. This is how most ateliers begin their students, especially those who trace their lineage back to R. H. Ives Gammell. The most comprehensive book about Sight-Size cast drawing is The Sight-Size Cast, available here.
Although all of the articles on the site were written to give you value, an initial path through them would be the nine links shown below.