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Nymphs and Satyr, by William Bouguereau (Detail)
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  • Nature through our eyes

    by Greg Scheckler

    If Brad were advocating purely subjective relativism he would be denying the facts of biology in favor of cultural constructs and personal me-isms. There is a good middle ground, that I think he's speaking to, where some of vision is described as biological and some is learned. In my opinion, I tip the scales towards the biology of the eye and mind; a lot of the attention we give to faces, various forms and contrasts, certain types of movement, etc., is well-studied and known to be instinctive. But there is no physiological reason why one should be a classical realist, or some other kind of artist.

    However, we should recognize that illusionistic, careful rendering of what we see, such as found in classical realism, is a lot more like how humans see than other forms of art that although visual do not emphasize what people see (abstract expressionism, for example is not about what we see so much as about what artists of that time thought were the pure qualities of paint [even though they seem to have ignored glazing and so many ways to use paint]). The illusionism of the classical realist approach provides the benefit of common, shared vision, that artists can use to speak to shared qualities of the human condition.

    As a teacher, I find that methods such as sight-size, master study, etc., provide a clear way literally to put my eyes in pretty much the same location and viewpoint as the student's. This makes discussions of the drawing/painting process a lot more concrete, and allows us to find and agree on very subtle issues when needed. It is shocking when you realize that you can have very much the same viewpoint as somebody else, for a time. At a very deep philosophical level these methods are saying that people can connect and find meaning across cultural, conceptual and other apparent boundaries. They are a lot more hopeful a set of methods than the strategies for art-making related to deconstructivism!

    Greg Scheckler