life size, under life size or over life size?
The position of the easel related to the subject in the case of a fixed position sight size approach ( we have discussed It here drawing from life ) can determine if the subject to be painted will be life size, under life size, or over life size. Generally, in order to obtain a good illusion of realism, painters choose to paint life size, or, under life size at the most. Let’s make a quick example. If we want to make a portrait, choosing to depict the sitter life size can result in a very life alike artowrk. That’s due to the fact that our perception Is very good at identify other human beings, and a life size painted head, follows the same measurements of a real human head. This fact Is very important since this greatly help to create the illusion of beholding a real human. The same thoughts can be applied to a under life size painted head. We percieve this head real as well, because It resemble what we actually percieve when we see a face from a distance.
There’s only one thing that really break the illusion of realism. To paint a head over life size. It is something that doesn’t exist in nature (maybe only if you suffer of hydrocephalie).
how It translates into practice
If I want to paint life size, we have to put the easel in such a way to “cut” the head into two equal halves, with our imaginary picture plane. In order to accomplish that, the canvas must be put beside the model, before the ears or at the most, after the ears. If we want to paint under life size, we can bring the easel a little bit closer to us, for example we could allign the canvas to the tip of the model nose. If we want to paint over life size, bring the easel further from you, past the model.