Bargue Drawing Unit Plan

November 8 to December 5, 2021

For full context, see the description of my Art Home School Curriculum.

When I first heard about the sight-size drawing method and Bargue plates, I thought it was something I would never be interested in doing. As you can tell by the title of this unit, I’ve changed my mind. Since my ultimate goal with art is imaginative realism, I think sight-size drawing is very limiting. However, that doesn’t mean I should dismiss it entirely without trying it out, and it makes sense that realism would be a prerequisite to imaginative realism. If you can’t draw what does exist, how can you draw what doesn’t?

Another motivating factor is that I’ve become interested in rendering with graphite after joining Steven Bauman’s Patreon, and since I have access to all his video tutorials for a month, it would be a waste not to try one or two of his Bargue drawing courses. The idea is to copy, as precisely as possible, one of Charles Bargue’s lithographs. Each lithograph is designed to teach students about certain aspects of drawing. Here is an example:

You start with the block-in on the left, and the final drawing should look like the right side. This was how art students learned to draw in the 19th century, so there is a great lineage and history to this practice.

On top of the Bargue drawings, I will continue my plan of spending 30% of my time painting by doing gouache portraits on the weekends. Now that I’ve done a couple black and white portraits, I’ll move into the Zorn palette. It just struck me that I’m finally moving into color!




Art Parent

Charles Bargue


  • Richard Schmidt — Alla Prima II


  • Value charts in graphite
  • Beginner Bargue plate
  • Intermediate Bargue plate
  • Gouache portrait with the Zorn palette



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