Sight-size and the Bargue debacle do not align with the main-stream of traditional artistic practices.

There is an inherent danger that over absorption in this kind of academic study neglects the development of the students’ intuitive, creative abilities.

It is the possession of said abilities, which will enable them to become an artist.

IMITATION is the rite of passage into the more essential aspects of creative endeavor.

One positively associates a dead level of respectable mediocrity with much Atelier work. We can call to mind a lot of dull, lifeless, highly-finished work, imperfectly perfect, that has won the prize in many a competition.” -Harold Speed-

Moving on, one must translate or ‘INTERPRET’ what they observe into a visual idiom.

They need to navigate farther into the ‘INTELLECTUAL’ aspects of the creative process.

This process involves more than merely seeing something; it involves knowing what one is looking at, which means working from inFORMed observation i.e., knowing what one is looking at and determining its relevant aspects. Aspects important enough to be included in the work.

It is not enough to record shapes and values; one has to establish a visual hierarchy of focal points instead of throwing the viewer under the bus.

One’s ‘INTUITION’ needs to kick in at some point, that point is hard to determine, but it is an integral element. Without intuition, there is no persona, and without a persona, there is not art.

Next is where the heavy lifting begins. Enter, stage left, the lead actor, ‘IMAGINATION.’ The big kahuna, the element that separates good from great, craft from creating, art from artisan and artifice.

Copying copious numbers of Bargue plates and doing tedious mimetic renditions of gypsum casts has some historical precedent for training craftsmen such as engravers, lithographers, and muralists. Any relationship to the Beaux-Arts tradition is purely coincidental.

To elevate: replication, duplication, verisimilitude, mimesis, i.e., copying to an undeserved pedestal of creative achievement does not equate.


Sight-size mimetic methodology, tonal trancing, shape aping, and duplicitous detail disorder are ‘rites of passage’ and nothing more. “To sum up, academic drawing is all that can really be taught and is as necessary to the painter as the practicing of exercises is to the musician, that his powers of observation and execution may be trained.” -Harold Speed-

Craftsmanship is not creativity, and copying should never be confused with creating.

We will leave you with this poignant quote: “In painting, the great painters never lose sight of the fact that it is paint with which they are expressing themselves. And although paint is capable of approaching much nearer an actual illusory appearance of nature than stone or bronze, they never push this to the point where you forget that it is paint. This has been left for some of the smaller men.”


  1. I wish more schools would emphasize the reasons behind copying — to learn and to use the skill to draw from imagination rather than learn to copy and stop at that.

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