Bargue Drawing Course

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DanielH wrote
on 21 Apr 2009 12:31 PM

Just curious - has anyone done (or is anyone currently doing) the Charles Bargue drawing course? I recently began the course and wondered if there was anyone else out there to compare notes with... Thanks!

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j.b2 wrote
on 22 Apr 2009 5:00 AM

I have taken it and thought it helped me with putting down what I was seeing.

It really made me pay attention to where lines are placed in relation to the rest of the composition. And paying attention was my problem..

To me it was very helpful & straight forward...

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DanielH wrote
on 22 Apr 2009 6:47 AM

JB - Did you use the sight-size method when you copied the drawings? I'm trying that out for the first time. The first two eye drawings from plate one turned out amazingly close to the original, but I've done the third drawing twice now with no success. I think I was rushing it a bit and made some critical placement errors at the beginning.

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j.b2 wrote
on 22 Apr 2009 8:09 PM

I did use it as best I could, meaning that I stood the drawing up and set it back from where I sat. Then I set my sketch book up right and measured as described in the book and as I had seen other drawers measure. I used the pencil as my measuring stick as I still do today.

The restrictions I had at that time was that I wasn't able to draw in a studio, but at a break table where I was working. Since I was the only one there at night I could set up and draw while waiting for the next batch to be done..

Some of them are more difficult and if you feel that you didn't quite get it, then re-draw it. I did more than once. It won't take long after starting the course that you will start to pay greater attention to placement of lines when drawing from life. I must mention that I was drawing from life 2x per week while working on the material...

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Robin11 wrote
on 26 Apr 2009 5:58 AM

What is it?  Is it an online course?

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j.b2 wrote
on 26 Apr 2009 2:01 PM

The book is called: The Charles Barque Drawing course. It's a publication from the late 19th century. There are 3 parts to it.

I bought it in NYC, but I no longer have the web site book marked..

Here is what I found on the web about the book;

Product Description
The Bargue-Gerome Drawing Course is a complete reprint of a famous, late nineteenth century drawing course. It contains a set of almost two hundred masterful lithographs of subjects for copying by drawing students before they attempt drawing from life or nature. Consequently it is a book that will interest artists, art students, art historians, and lovers and collectors of drawings. It also introduces us to the work and life of a hitherto neglected master: Charles Bargue. The Drawing Course consists of three sections. The first consists of plates drawn after casts, usually of antique examples. Different parts of the body are studied in order of difficulty, until full figures are presented. The second section pays homage to the western school of painting with lithographs after exemplary drawings by Renaissance and modern masters. The third part contains almost sixty academies or drawings after nude male models, all original inventions by Bargue, the lithographer. With great care, the student is introduced to continually more difficult problems in the close observing and recording of nature. Practiced professional artists will see at once the problems of representation that are approached by Bargue, and they will delight in his solutions. Figure painters will copy the plates to keep in tune; so to speak, much as pianists practice the exercises of Czerny before performing Beethoven. Art students will find it a practical and progressive introduction to realistic figure drawing. Art historians can learn by studying these drawings just what was prized in late 19th century figure painting. They will recognize the reliance upon tradition by the use of antique sculptures as models in the first part: Antiquity is here used, not to impose a classical style, but as an aid in seeing the structure of the human body with clarity and intelligence. The result is a convergence of Classicism and Realism. There are no numerical proportional charts, perspective boxes or geometrical schemata to memorize. All the techniques and schemata are developed out of and for the object or person in view. The drawings are splendid; beautiful; not simply products of assiduity, but of careful observation and the wish to transcribe and communicate the beauty of nature and light, as well as the manifold appearances of the human body. These are objectives that will touch and move any careful reader of drawings, and the figurative arts. Charles Bargue started his career as a lithographer of drawings by hack artists for a popular market in comic, sentimental and soft-porn subjects. By working with Gerome, and in preparing the plates for the course, Bargue was transformed into a spectacular painter of single figures and intimate scenes; a master of precious details that always remain observation and never became self-conscious virtuosity, of color schemes that unified his composition in exquisite tonal harmonies. The last part of the book is a biography of Bargue, along with a preliminary catalogue of his paintings, accompanied by reproductions of all that have been found and of many of those lost.

About the Author
Gerald Ackerman was born in California. He completed his studies at the University of California at Berkeley, then at the University of Munich and finally at Princeton, where he received his PhD. For twenty years, he was a professor of art history at Pomona College in California. He is a specialist of Gerome and published studies on other 19th century American and European artists, as well as on the theory of academic art.

I hope this helps...

 

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DanielH wrote
on 28 Apr 2009 12:26 PM

Yes, it's a very intense course! But I'm finding (as JB has already mentioned) that the more drawings I do, the better I get at really seeing where the lines should go. If anyone's interested in the book, this is the best price I could find:

http://www.daheshmuseum.org/museumshop/index.php?productID=285

One word of caution - the plates are meant to be copied at their original size - about 18" x 24", so if you want to copy from the book without making it overly difficult on yourself, you should make photocopies to work from. I work at a print & design company, so this was no issue for me, but if you're paying Kinko's for all of those reproductions, it could get pretty costly! That being said, it really is a great course to do in tandem with life-drawing if you want to get better at your observational skills.

I'm using the traditional sight-size technique (recommended in the book) and have really enjoyed the success I've been having using it - even if it is a bit time-consuming...

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on 28 Apr 2009 1:33 PM

Hello Daniel

Be still my heart, I've just hit the pay button to order the Charles Barque drawing book (Canadian funds).  Thanks for the information provided as to where one could obtain.  Chapters in Canada charges $145 or so, but it is not available.  Guess I'd better sharpen my pencils.  {;

Valerie

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DanielH wrote
on 28 Apr 2009 2:08 PM

Hey - glad to hear Valerie! It's really a beautiful book, too. My wife is currently enrolled in nursing school and she paid more for some of her textbooks, so I was able to justify spending the cash on it (provided I don't become a slacker and not finish!). Best of luck!

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LordBishop08 wrote
on 1 Jun 2009 9:54 AM

I just got the Bargue Course, as well!  Currently I'm studying the Norman Rockwell Famous Artist Course, but I will probably intergrate some Bargue plate studies from time to time.

Impatience is the enemy of good drawing.

My Blog:

http://lordbishop08.blogspot.com/

http://lordbishop08.websitetoolbox.com/

 

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judyl40 wrote
on 2 Jun 2009 11:23 AM

My husband just bought the book as a joint birthday gift for us. Haven't started it yet, but from what I've read about it, it's a great discipline to sharpen up your seeing/drawing skills.

It's been too many years since my art school days, when we drew from the model every day, so I feel that I'm about due for a refresher on seeing & drawing.

And yes, it really is a beautiful book! Wink

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DaleA2 wrote
on 18 Jul 2009 11:34 AM

I'm really happy that I've found this forum. I've just started the Bargue Drawing course and its so good just to talk with other people who are doing the same thing.  -DanielH-  I was reading the book and saw that it recomended enlarging the plates, my fear is destroying the binding on the book. I was reading that the book was poorly bound and the pages would start to fall out, has anyone found this problem yet? also I was thinking about enlarging the plates to  11"X17" as this would greatly reduce the cost of copying.

It would be great if people could post their success and difficulties as they go through the course as insiration for the rest of us.

Cheers!

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DanielH wrote
on 18 Jul 2009 12:36 PM

Hi DaleA - Glad to hear you're having a go at the Bargue course! As far as the book-binding, I've read the same thing about it being poorly bound. Honestly, I don't see any problems with mine, but I haven't gotten so far that I've tried scanning pages from the middle of the book yet. I agree, it's not the best binding choice for a book that's meant to be used in such a manner, no matter how attractive it may be!

If you're planning on doing the drawings in the recommended way - sight-size - then I would strongly suggest blowing them up to the suggested 18"x24" rather than 11"x17". I'm afraid they would just be too hard to see properly for sight-size if you did it that small. Just from working on the first plate, I've found that the original size seems to be "just right" for really learning from the course. It's harder to see where your mistakes are when you work small, and there are many subtleties that can make huge differences in getting a proper rendering - which is the whole point of the course, anyway.

I think the best (and cheapest) way to do it is to scan the plate (or have them scanned if you don't have the capability), then print the top half and bottom half of the plate full-size, but separately on plain white 11"x17" paper. Anyone with Photoshop (or any simple graphic editing program) should be able to do that for you easily. Does that make sense?

One more word of advice - if you're planning on doing them the proper way, as recommended in the book, only get a few scanned and printed at a time. It will take you a while to do them, so you might as well spread the costs out... Hope this helps! If you're interested, I just started a weblog of my progress through the course (The Home-Based Atelier) where I note the challenges that I face in each drawing as I work through them. I only have a few done so far, but I'm moving along... All the best!

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DaleA2 wrote
on 18 Jul 2009 2:29 PM

Thanx so much Daniel for the advice, I do have photoshop and will enlarge plates as suggested. My interest is in the way Ateliers taught their students and I'm searching for the techniques that would help me along. I was going to use pencil to render the plates as the book suggests that charcoal needed to be used properly, which I'm not to sure about as I mainly use pencil. Have you found the proper techniques for charcoal?

Sorry to ask so many questions but my intention is to put myself through an Atelier at home and study what I can, if you have any other resourses I could read i'd be pretty happy.

Thanx again,

Dale

Oh, by the way, what a great site the "Home-based Atelier" is! Thanx!

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DanielH wrote
on 18 Jul 2009 3:49 PM

Hi Dale - I'm glad my website helped you out. Thanks for the positive feedback! Regarding the charcoal technique - use vine or willow charcoal. You can find it at most any art or craft store, and it's relatively inexpensive. Vine charcoal sticks are thin, like a pencil, so they're pretty easy to hold (sorry to assume you don't know any of this, but I'm not sure what your experience with charcoal is). It's best to buy a variety of densities - from hard to very soft so you can experiment and see which one you like better. I've found I like soft because it erases more completely (I make lots of mistakes on those Bargue plates!), but you have to sharpen it frequently because it dulls easily. I think when I'm more confident with my lines I'll use medium or hard more often.

To sharpen it, you'll need a sandpaper sharpening block (which you can also find at the art/craft store). Hold the charcoal at a 45-degree angle and rub it away from you on the sandpaper. While doing this, roll it away from you with your fingers, so that it's turning while you're rubbing it along the sandpaper. This will give you a nice round point. Just make sure to always handle it with care, as it is rather brittle.

I've been thinking about putting up a post on my site regarding this very subject. It sounds silly, but it took me a long time and much web searching to discover the proper way to sharpen vine charcoal! Seems like it would be a useful topic... Of course, you could probably use a charcoal pencil - but it's worth learning how to use the vine, as you can achieve great subtleties with it that you (and I) will need when we get into the more advanced drawings.

As far as resources - the books I've mentioned on my website were extremely helpful - in particular, Virgil Elliott's book if you're going to be getting into oil painting. Another that I mean to mention on my site soon is "Classical Drawing Atelier" by Juliette Aristides. She gives you a really good understanding of how an atelier works and an example of a program of study. Very helpful.

All the best in your journey,

Daniel

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