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4 Day Intensive Clay Figure Course - When Thursday 1st August - Sunday 4th August - Time: 9am - 5pm - All materials, a hearty lunch and refreshments included - Suitable for complete beginners to experienced artists - Cost: £475 (50% deposit is required to book your place) - Limited paces available.

During this four day course, sculptor Jason Arkles will leads the course in creating 1/3 life-sized figures in clay, using the visual measurement techniques of the Sight Size method. Working from a live model posed in a seated position, students will learn how to build clay figures of substantial dimensions without the use of an armature, in water-based clay. Jason will work alongside you throughout the duration of the course, providing a demonstration of techniques and practices  for the entirety of the course.

Throughout the 4 day course, you will be working from a living model seven hours a day with an hour for a hearty lunch. Instead of moulding and casting the work at the end of the course, these seated figures will be hollowed out ready to be fired into terracotta statuettes, should you wish too. Alternatively, you can take their work home for further finishing or casting, as desired.

On the last day, various finishing techniques will be introduced, and the works will be hollowed and left to dry.

About Sight size techniques:

'Sight size' is the common name for a body of techniques designed to develop the eye of the artist into a powerful, objective measuring tool. Its origins date back to the early Renaissance, and many elements employed in the technique are detailed in Leon Battista Alberti's treatise of sculpture known as 'Della Statua' first published in 1436. The method cemented itself into its current form when it became a popular technique in the Parisian studios of the 19th Century, when it was known generally as 'the French Method'. The method was favoured by the Romantic and Realist movements, as well as the 'New Sculpture' movement in Victorian Britain, and the 'Beaux-Arts style' in the United States.


Utilizing a plumbline, mirror, and simple optical and geometric principles (no math involved!), a person sculpting using Sight size methods has little need for compasses and caliper measurements, ruler measurements, or compositional canons (like drawing a center line down the torso, dividing the face into three equal parts to locate features, and other non-visual, constructionist  methods). The result in being trained in Sight size is that an artist has an improved visual memory, an instinct towards seeing the 'big look' of a composition, and most importantly, it leads to a personal, non-formulaic style in art, as the result of sight size is sculpture which stands as a record of the artist's visual perception of the world, filtered through the artist's consciousness. Sight size is sculpting what you see, tempered by how you feel about what you see. Once the method is mastered, you can effectively model in clay a copy of anything you see in nature around you.

Jason Arkles is an American sculptor, art historian, podcaster and author living in Florence, Italy. Beginning his training as a sculptor in 1996 at the Charles H. Cecil Studio in Florence, Arkles soon began to teach in the sculpture department there, notably heading up the experimental sculpture program initiated by Cecil, which sought to revive a sculptural method based on optical and geometric processes ( in painting, known as Sight-Size), once used in the ateliers of Francois Rude and other sculptors in 19th century Paris, but since the 20th Century known only as a technique for painters and draughtsmen.

In 2006 Arkles published the fruits of this experimental sculptural technique under the title Sculpting From Life – A Studio Manual of The Sight Sized Method. As of 2018, he is working with a publishing house in the UK on producing a greatly expanded and improved second edition. Continuing his research into historical techniques, in 2013 Arkles published a translation into English, with extensive commentary, of Leon Battista Alberti's Della Statua, regarded as the earliest figurative sculpture manual in Europe, and is the first published English translation in almost fifty years. Notably, Arkles' is the first English translation to approach the text not as merely a historical document, but as it was originally intended by its author – to be read, understood, and utilised by practitioners of the craft of sculpture. He us currently writing a survey of optical approaches and techniques in Western European sculpture which unites and contextualses contemporary and historical practice.

As a practicing sculptor, Arkles operates a studio in Florence and works on private commissions, specialising in portraiture in marble, but also producing figures and monuments in various media. His work is largely driven by a sense of narrative and psychological symbol, and this has sometimes led Arkles to foray into ecclesiastical work. Arkles is drawn both to sacred art and to portraiture for the same reason – narrative. To this end, in 2010 Arkles received a Master's degree in Sacred Art and Architecture from Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, a degree program instituted by the Vatican in 2007 and under Pontifical authority.


Recently, Arkles' role of lecturer and instructor has come to the fore, locally and internationally. He has held a position since 2014 on the History of Art Department at the British Institute of Florence, and lectures for several institutions and studio in town. In 2015, Arkles assembled his lectures and research into a podcast called The Sculptor's Funeral, which is ongoing and reaches a global audience. The  podcast discusses significant events, artists, and sculpture in art history, promotes and discusses current events relevant to sculptors, and in a broad sense, connects the diaspora of figurative sculptors everywhere. And since 2015, Arkles has given workshops on the sight-size method of clay modelling, as well as lecture tours and other educational programs, in ateliers and institutions around the world, an endeavour fuelled by the worldwide popularity of the podcast. Arkles also seeks out opportunities to help sculptors and institutions raise the profile of figurative sculpture, and art history. Some of those opportunities include presenting art history for the New Masters Academy, an online educational forum for artists; helping to institute a traditional skills-based marble carving program for Boise State University in Idaho, US; giving lectures on Art History to sculptors working in the special effects industry in New Zealand; and collaborating with various schools and ateliers in developing sculpture departments. In 2019, Arkles will be the Guest Speaker at the International Stone Sculptors Symposium in Washington State, USA, and present a talk at the annual convention of the National Sculpture Society in New York.

Earlier Event: July 29
Later Event: September 7