Sunday, August 16, 2009

Catch Phrases Used as Excuses

For a while now I have been dealing with a lot of misconceptions and concerns coming from students, prospective students, teachers and professional artists about modern academic art education. Many of these people are very sincere in their search for correct principles in art and methods of teaching that will help them understand those principles. This post is to try, in a simple way, to answer some of these concerns. I'm sure that I won't fully address every angle of the concerns, but hopefully this will act as a springboard for some discussion that will allow me to provide answers more fully. First - There are many people out there who are getting caught up in the negativity of sight-size drawing. For the most part this negativity is coming from people who know very little or nothing about it, but are more than happy to pass on the negativity based on hearsay. It's more than ridiculous that so many young and otherwise sincere students are being swayed by this uneducated and biased jargon. So here is my answer. Most of you who are negative towards sight-size should really ask yourself why. Is it because you have heard bad things, read bad things, or assumed bad things about it? Or is it because you have tried it with proper teaching and didn't like it? It seems like the only way you could really make a conscious decision on whether you like it or not is if you had personal experience with it. Sight-size drawing has become a catch phrase for those who want to undermine Academic study. Sight-size does not in any way define Academic study. The majority of real academies out there do not use sight-size drawing, but they do teach the same drawing principles as those academies that do use sight-size. It's not about sight-size, it's about the knowledge you gain from teaching based on proper principles. Sight-size does not provide artists with all the answers. It is not a mechanical method of drawing. It still requires that the student uses his vision to judge the subject and compare it's parts to refine the whole. The results are obvious. Take a good student from the Florence Academy of Art and one from the Grand Central Academy. The one from the FAA is being taught drawing principles using sight-size, the student from the GCA is learning the same drawing principles without sight-size. Compare the results. They are both coming out with high levels of accuracy and great sensitivities for life. On the other hand, look at the results of those students who study drawing outside of the top academies. I'm hard pressed to find any school that has good student drawings. This is due to the lack of principles being taught. Sight-size is not the problem. The lack of principled teaching is. There is more to this discussion on sight-size. There is also more to the discussion beyond sight-size. I'll leave it just this for now, and address more later. Please let me know what you all think and maybe we can spark a discussion.
I grabbed some images of student work off the GCA and FAA websites. The top left image was done by Cornelia Hernes from the FAA, top right was done by Michael DeVore from the FAA, the one below those was done by Emilie Lee from the GCA and the last one was done by Angela Cunningham of the GCA.