My atelier curriculum begins with drawing a sphere, in graphite, according to very specific standards. The sphere is always drawn in three stages: Contour, Shape, and Form.
When an artist takes the time to perfect the sphere, they find their ability to draw and paint any subject has significantly advanced.
Any specific struggles an artist has with the sphere will be echoed in all their other artwork: A misshapen circle, misjudged values, inability to control the drawing media, or inability to conceptualize the 3-dimensional form in space are all issues that will weaken every other drawing and painting the artist attempts.
Therefore, we apply the exact same method for every drawing that follows in the course of study.
After the sphere students move on to rendering "Bargue Plates". (Bargue plates are instructional drawings designed in France in the 19th century to be copied by art students).
When a student has completed one or more Bargue plate copies, they are ready to begin a Cast Drawing, which is a drawing of a plaster cast of a sculpture by a historic master.
It often takes 50-200 hours to complete a Bargue plate or cast drawing with this method. It's important for students to slow down and take their time to really understand the shapes and forms of their subject.
However, as we all know, it's rarely practical to have this much time to capture our subject. So as we advance, we naturally begin to adapt the concepts that have been ingrained by classical drawing to shorter time frames and less static subjects.