Watercolor: Lull (& using Sight Size in your painting & drawing)

Lull 10 x 7 Graphite & Watercolor on Strathmore Plate Finish Bristol
Available Matted & Framed in my Etsy Shop.
I snapped the reference photo for this during a visit with MKH last summer. I was sitting on the floor surrounded by friends & family, and a very active two year old engaged in rearranging a mine-field of toys on the carpet. The only thing focused in my photo is the central figure and everything around her is a blur of limbs, shoulders and hands. The cat was no where in sight, but adding the shape of his head & ears mimicked the silhouette of her knees and broke up some of the horizontal lines in the composition.

One of the lasting lessons (of many) I got from David Kassan was about sight & size; you draw or paint the subject the same size you see the subject. I’ve read about it, but hadn’t tried it before his workshop last summer. Since then, I’ve tried to keep my source material the same size as my drawing or painting, and it has helped tremendously. Instead of forcing your brain into a two-step process; 1) remembering the shapes you just looked at so you can render them on your support, and 2) re-scaling them larger or smaller to fit your drawing or painting, sight-size removes the re-scaling part of the exercise so you can focus more on duplicating the exact placement of shape and form – the same size as your reference material – whether it’s a live model in the studio, or a photograph. If you’ve never tried it, give it a whirl. I think it helps us see better.

I used a grid to get my drawing down; my reference photo was folded in half, twice, in the vertical and horizontal, and my paper was measured and lined with watercolor pencil to mimic the fold lines on the photo. The drawing was laid in loosely – more as a map or outline of the placement of figure and the bright spots of the furniture. Once I started painting, my grid disappeared, and the sight size really helped here; I could look at the shape of shadows on the face, and paint them in the same size, in the same place as the photo.

Lull, original watercolor, matted & framed

Art Quote
On April 15, 1875at 35 boulevard des Capucines, in the former studios of the notorious photographer Nadar, the First Impressionist Exhibition, as it soon would be called, only ran for a month. But when it closed on May 15th, history had been made. For the first time artists had banded together to show their work to the public directly without the sanction of the government or the judgment of a jury. Defying tradition and the authority of the administration, the participating artists quickly were recognized as the avant-garde, and their show became a touchstone for all such future Modernists’ efforts. ~Paul Tucker

8 Responses to Watercolor: Lull (& using Sight Size in your painting & drawing)

  1. Art By Erika March 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Thanks for sharing about sight sizing – it sure makes sense huh? So my question izzzz why does David use binoculars then (for portraiture)? 🙂 Love how you maintained a very natural and relaxed posed!

  2. Dan Kent March 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    This is phenomenal! I love every part of it, the composition, how it is painted, and the overlay of colors in the front.

    I found what you had to say about sight size to be very interesting. I do a lot of sketching in ink in public and recently I tried to increase the size of the pad to do larger sketches. It totally threw me. I’ve gone back to my pocket-size moleskine and suddenly I’m almost prolific. I’m wondering if it has something to do with sight size.

    Thanks for the tip!

  3. Christine March 10, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    very beautiful..thanks for sharing the process

  4. Robyn March 10, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    Beautiful painting full of character, Belinda. The addition of the cat is an inspired matching of mood.

    I too thank you for the lesson 🙂

  5. Barbara M. March 9, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    Great painting, and good information.

    Thanks for this, and thanks again for your generosity.

    xoxoxoxoxoxoBarbara

  6. Laurel Daniel March 9, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Love this one… and I loved reading about your process… I was just talking with a painting friend about “sight size” drawing today. So serendipitous! I will forward this on. XO

  7. Kristin March 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    Beautiful painting! I love the cat!

  8. Carol Blackburn March 9, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Love how you explained pulling this one all together. Really nice one, Belinda. I love seeing what you are doing.

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