If you have been developing a keen interest for life drawing, the art of drawing and painting the human body and the human form in all its shapes and sizes, you might think that it is time to stop watching videos of art instructors online and attend your first life drawing art class. Now, if you are not living in London, do not despair, there are many art studios and art schools scattered around the country. These will often offer lessons (for a fee), that includes drawing materials such as pencils, charcoal, canvass, drawing board, easel and brushes. Many of them are aimed at beginners, but a lot of open studios and workshop welcome all level of artists. Most of the time a professional artist or art teacher will be guiding the lesson and a naked life model will be taking poses and gestures for the students to sketch, draw or paint. We will list the different ways you can find and take drawing lessons when you do not live in the capital.
Art Schools and Universities: Not Necessarily Only For Students
The UK counts some of the best European universities and most of them offer Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts or Visual Art. But what people tend to think is that art workshops and art studios located in those school are reserved for students that attend the said schools. The Ruskin School of Arts, part of the University of Oxford, offers open to all classes every Saturday during each of the University terms. Each class cycle lasts 8 weeks. A class of maximum 16 participants work with a life figure model and are guided by the professional tutors. The workshop provides easels, drawing boards and cartridge paper but asks that each participant bring the sketching materials they need (pencils, charcoal, eraser, clips or masking tape, etc). For those really interested in life drawing, a lot of universities will offer part-time courses spanning over 6 to 8 weeks and teach the fundamental of life drawing and fine art before working your way up to more advanced painting techniques. The Ruskin School of Arts proposes a 3-day course that offers an introduction for the beginner, as well as those wishing to explore new approaches to drawing and solidify the fundamentals. Students are guided in learning how to observe while the teachings are focused on improving student's drawing techniques. The course also includes a guided visit to Ashmolean Museum sculpture galleries. This very well structured course isn't free though and the 3-day class will cost you £430 (less if you're a student), and is likely reserved for those who are very serious about improving their art and maybe starting a portfolio. The University of Hertfordshire also offers a workshop "designed specifically to teach you the fine art skills of drawing and painting, and clay modelling if desired, where you will work primarily from observation of the human figure". This course aims at growing whatever level of skills you already possess but also expand your creativity by introducing to new techniques and form of art. Price of workshop vary depending on if you opt for the 2 hours session one or the 6-hours session workshop, but either way the course span over 7 to 8 weeks and will cost you from £160 to £360. These are only two examples and there are many more universities offer such a course where beginners and advanced students can perfect their art, often for a fee though.
Art Center And Studios
There are many art studios and artist collective that either offer paying figure drawing classes or open studio days. In either case, they will most likely offer top-notch advice and tutoring for you to improve your skillset. They range from drawing and painting but sometimes also offer sculpting or clay pottery classes, always working on life art using nude models. Even if London hosts most drawing classes, the rest of the UK is not without many very well established art studios.
- Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Life Drawing at Colbat: this artist-led studio house offers open-to-all life drawing workshops with no pressure at all. Indeed there is no teacher, merely a facilitator that will guide the model if needed. These sessions are meant to be chilled and remove any pressure that could arise from a formal teaching class. They encourage models to take inspiration from classic arts, dance choreography and yoga poses.
- Each session costs only £5 if booked in advance but artists will have to provide pens, pencils or chalks, while the studio will supply drawing boards and paper.
- Shrewsbury Life Drawing Workshop at the English Bridge Workshops: this workshop founded in the early 1980's has been supporting the thriving art and cultural scene of Shropshire for almost 40 years. They have a well established, friendly and informal, figure sketching class which is open to all. However, as it is not tutored, it might not suit artists that just began drawing. They also offer a portrait workshop where artists can use any medium: paint, charcoal, pastel, watercolours, etc.
- Portrait art session at The Old School, Gloucester: led by Gloucester based visual artist Tanya Gaffney-Greetham, sessions focus on drawing or painting "live clothed portrait models" each session focuses "on a different theme of the creative process, developing the artists' abilities in a structured and engaging way". Each class costs £12 and lasts 2 hours with a break (and refreshment provide).
We can not list all of them but you can check on lovelifedrawing.com to find a life drawing class London near you.
What About Online Courses?
If you live too far from an art class, online art courses might be for you. One of the best one currently based in the UK is offered by The Royal Academy. The 250 years old institution that has championed art and artists and has extensive galleries through London where you will be able to admire the best life drawing pieces. They also boast one of the best art school in the country and their website also offers #LifeDrawingLive. This new way of studying and practising life drawing will make it easier for everyone living far away from any studios or art schools. All you need is the Internet and a computer. You could start a portrait or a sketch of an (almost) nude model who's posing hundreds of kilometres from you. The 90 minutes long sessions can be joined at any point, for all or parts of it. The sessions are guided by an instructor and it usually starts with some quick poses before trying some longer poses to perfect your drawings,
Note that because these sessions are held on social media, they will not include fully nude models. So for any NSFP content, you will have to find a regular class.
"Drawing is the honesty of the art. There is no possibility of cheating.
It is either good or bad." - Salvador Dali
You might also be interested in the website skillshare which has a very extensive list of video approaching different aspects of life and figure drawing. On there you will be guided by talented artists and some time professional art teachers on different techniques of drawing ranging from watercolour portrait to gesture drawing and character design. You will also find videos on how to draw faces or how to draw eyes, fundamental if you want to be drawing accurate portraits. The skillshare website will be particularly helpful if you are a beginner artist interested in drawing your own comic book or graphic novel. The website includes a lot of video focusing on how to sketch characters and give each of them an individual design and personality through art.
And Private Drawing Lessons ...
Of course, if you are looking for a very personalised environment you could always hire a private drawing tutor to teach you one-on-one. On Superprof you will be able to find a teacher whatever your level is. These kinds of lessons will obviously be more costly but will usually see you progress more quickly than in a class setting. If you are a beginner, the teacher will probably start by covering the basic of life drawing such as getting the proportions right, teaching you how to quickly sketch the outline of your model and how to work on light and shadow to give depth to your work and depict your model as accurately as possible. If you are a more advanced artist you will probably want to move from drawing and sketching with pencils and charcoal to painting with watercolour and later with oil paint, learning how to mix colours properly and blend all your brush stroke seamlessly to render a perfect portrait. It is rare that drawing skills be innate and it will take hours upon hours to reach the status of master. But the learning the art of drawing can teach much more than just depicting an image. It is often said that learning how to draw you will better your observation skills, improve your social skills and be better in many other areas such as engineering, writing or sculpting.