The Atelier Tradition
Fundamental to the teaching is the practice of drawing and painting from life with no recourse to photography. The sight-size technique is taught at Charles H. Cecil Studios whereby subject and image are depicted to scale as seen from a given distance. When properly understood, sight-size is not a mere measuring technique, but a philosophy of seeing. The method was used by many of the finest painters in oil since the seventeenth century, including Reynolds, Lawrence and Sargent.
In reviving the atelier tradition, R. H. Ives Gammell (1893-1981) adopted sight-size as the basis of his teaching method. He founded his studio on the precedent of private ateliers, such as those of Carolus-Duran and Léon Bonnat. These French masters were accomplished sight-size portraitists who conveyed to their pupils a devotion to the art of Velázquez. It should be noted that Sargent was trained by both painters and that, in turn, his use of sight-size had a major influence in Great Britain and America.
Charles Cecil is committed to the belief that the atelier tradition is invaluable for a renewal in figurative art. In keeping with this concept, Cecil accepts only a limited number of pupils each year. He personally supervises the progress of their work and is assisted by advanced students and colleagues who return at regular intervals. The aim of the Studio is to train painters and teachers who will excel as artists and evolve the atelier tradition.