I made some stern comments about Robert Beverly Hale a few months ago. I don't take back a word of what I wrote, but a bit of additional perspective might be in order.
The philosophy Hale espoused was not entirely wrong. He taught an approach to drawing which could be termed conceptual drawing, although not conceptual in the sense that schools and critics use that term these days. His view of drawing was conceptual in the sense that he believed an artist worked based on schematic conceptions built during his training. In his book Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters, Hale claimed that in the course of finishing a drawing, the trained artist hardly paid attention to the model, and that he deviated enormously from what he saw.
There's a place for this sort of viewpoint. Every comic book and storyboard artist works this way. John Buscema's book How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way describes the process far better than Hale did, since Buscema actually knew how to draw, but it is essentially the same process. When your work demands great speed, demands figures be drawn for which no model could pose, there is no alternative to the procedure.
Nor is this approach relegated just to illustration. Some painters have used it, particularly prior to the late 18th century. But even some great painting and drawing of the 19th century was executed without models. Daumier is a wonderful example. His lithographs and paintings, done entirely without posed models, may have been the result of a staggering visual memory, but may also have been schematic in nature.
There's another exception, but he's an exception that proves the rule. William Blake worked entirely conceptually, relying on a superb command of human anatomy. He didn't work from models. Blake's work is beloved, but can hardly be classed among the great drawings and paintings of all time. His figures are replete with what one might call "anatomical clichés", the sort of schticks which can account for the bumps and hollows of the human body, but have no sense of the life which animates the figure. By that token, there's more life in a conceptual drawing by Jack Kirby or Alex Toth than a Blake.
Hale's generalizations may have applied reasonably well to some of the artists he cites as examples of their use. Certainly not most of them. He errs, particularly, in using Ingres as an example of the methodology. Ingres' finish and his wonderful contours are not the result of recipes, but of observation, informed by taste. Ingres, of all people, should have been exempted from Hale's claims. Ingres called himself a "genius", and then proceeded to explain what he meant. "When I enter my studio," he asserted, "I make no claim to understanding what lies before me. I face each motif anew." This is hard to argue with, particularly if you've tried painting pictures of human beings. What lies before the eye must humble all but those most overcome with temerity. Genius is a hard road to hoe. No human being can invent credible figures. If Ingres couldn't, chances are that you can't either. I sure can't, and working for decades under Hale's delusions, I did my damndest. But I have to come out with it: drawing just doesn't work that way.
The real thing must be observed. The only way conceptual figures can appear to have life is if they inhabit an entirely conceptual world. Which takes us again to comic books. The great comic book illustrators are great storytellers and good draughtsmen. Too many great ones to name. As long as their faces and figures are confined to the simplified worlds for which they were designed, the effect is believable. But pull them out of that world and the spell is broken. Great comic book artists have sometimes attempted oil painting, to their embarrassment.
But for me to say that Hale's philosophy bears little resemblance to how pictures are actually made is too broad a statement. Comics are pictures. Blake's watercolors are pictures. Hale's notions are credible enough, when confined to a world of conceptual drawing. But that's about it. The Impressionists didn't work that way, or the neoclassicists, or any painter who wishes to record the panoply of what strikes the retinas of our eyes. For that, drawing must be observational. The student wishing to work this way would be wise to forget the mass conceptions, and invest in some plaster casts.