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  • Sadie Valeri

Teaching Classical Drawing Online

In most full time art programs of the last 100 years, students start right away drawing and painting from the live model. However, art students of the past first learned to draw by studying plaster casts of classical sculpture for a year or two before working from a live model. Students in my atelier spend their first year copying master drawings (called Bargue Plates) and drawing plaster casts, in graphite, before beginning painting. It can take 20-50 hours to complete a Bargue plate copy, and 40-80 hours to complete a beginner cast drawing, so how is it possible to teach such detailed and precise drawing methods online?

Bargue Plate Copy by Sadie Valeri Atelier student Jennifer Israel


Such slow, detailed artworks like these are not suitable for demonstrating with a single video, so the way I teach Bargue Plate Copying and Cast Drawing online is through a series of short, manageable lessons.


Starting with how to correctly sharpen a pencil, my students master how to draw an ellipse, a perfect circle, and a fully shaded 3-dimensional sphere with controlled shading. Even beginners are surprised to find that with a few weeks practice, they can achieve impressive results.

Students are then guided through a series of exercises for drawing any object with accurate proportions, using my exclusive 4-step block-in method.


When a student has completed these exercises, they are ready to create their first Bargue Copy, and then Cast Drawing.


This series of video lessons comprises my "Intro to Classical Drawing and Bargue Plates" course, which is available to members of my Online Atelier.


To study cast drawing with me online, my online student purchases an affordable beginner cast, one of the Features of Michelangelo's David (available through American and European sellers). I then guide the student through setting up the cast with an appropriate light source. The student then works through the steps for creating a classical drawing which they have learned through copying Bargue plates. They submit their progress weekly, and through detailed written feedback they are able to execute a successful classical cast drawing at home.

Generally students work 10-20 hours per week on their drawings. We have all levels of students, from absolute beginners to professional artists who want to experience the benefits of classical training.

Cast Drawing demonstrated for her students by Sadie Valeri

Cast Drawing by Online Atelier Instructor Derek Spieker

Cast Drawing by Online Atelier Instructor Ian Hurtado Zafra

Students who complete even just one cast drawing find that their skills have dramatically improved for drawing and painting any subject. For more information about my online art classes and videos visit the VIDEOS page.

@2019-20 SJNV Creative Associates and Sadie Valeri Atelier | San Francisco, California, United States