Take a drawing class that will change how you see the world

19 July 2017

UCL Slade School of Fine Art has been running life-drawing classes open to the public for more than 30 years. The classes bring their world-famous and distinctive principles of drawing into an accessible format that anyone can join. But is life drawing for you? We explore why everyone should do a life drawing class at the Slade.

Spending hours drawing naked people may not immediately jump out as being on everyone’s bucket list.  There is, however, a really important reason why life drawing is a vital teaching tool that will make you see the world around you differently.

We take a look at this long-running Slade short course and why you should do it.

Book now for 31 July Life Drawing - Summer School Short Course

Opening your eyes: why the naked human form?

examples from the life drawing short course

The key thing for anyone involved in any observational art is to learn how to look more effectively. It's also about questioning what your brain perceives and trying to work out what you might be seeing.

This is why learning to draw the human form is more efficient than learning how to draw a chair or a landscape.

It’s one of the most challenging things to do for a number of reasons:

  • You need to try to work out what you’re seeing, not what your brain fills in. As the human form is so familiar to you, you automatically start making assumptions about what you're seeing. This challenges you to be more critical and analytical, and to look more effectively
  • The fact that you're drawing a living, breathing person full of energy and life galvanises your attention and gives a sense of urgency to your focus.
  • The inherent proportions and complex structure of the human body provide a compelling and challenging subject to study

It’s not all about making what's thought of as a ‘good drawing’ in the usual terms. It’s about drawing in ways that unpick what makes up our perception, which in turn helps to create a language to express that on paper.

Benefit from a variety of perspectives

This is not a class where you’ll just spend hours drawing (though you’ll get plenty of that too!). You’ll be taught a variety of approaches, processes and strategies in a very dynamic environment. You’ll spend a great deal of time learning about perception and how to look at the world around you in many ways.

This is explored and reinforced by the size of the team teaching the course. As the course has been taught for 30 years, the teaching techniques and explanations have been honed and perfected and will give you an incredibly thorough understanding.

It’s not just about what you’re doing – it’s how and why you’re doing it, consciously learning the brick-by-brick essential elements of building an image, as well as learning the difference between what we think and what we see.

The teaching is led by four accomplished artists who all have their own styles, approaches and expert areas of interest.

Ian Rowlands

Ian graduated with a B.A. in Fine Art from Norwich School of Art where he worked under the tutelage of Lessore and Wonnacott. This was followed by three years' graduate study at the Royal Academy Schools where a rigorous approach to drawing from observation was strongly encouraged.

An interest in the raw materials of the artist led him into teaching and writing. He's contributed to a number of publications including 'The Observer Guide to Painting' and ‘Artist and Illustrators’ magazine, and is the author of 'Foundation Course, Life Drawing'.

He teaches regularly on the Slade Summer School and Short Course programme, at The Princes Drawing School and Heatherleys Art School, and is an artist consultant writing and teaching masterclasses for Winsor and Newton.

Kate Hopkins

Kate is a painter who has still life central to her practice. She studied in the life room at the Slade, as well as painting still lifes from 1985-1991 during her BA (Hons) and HDFA. She was awarded the Boise Travel Scholarship and the Elizabeth Greenshields Award in 1989, and the Duveen Travel Scholarship in 
1991. Kate shows her paintings at Browse and Darby, and had a solo show in 2016.

Working from appearances, she has a particular interest in the nature of visual perception, which underpins her teaching.

Maria Teresa Ortoleva

Maria is an Italian artist based in London, working between the UK and Milan. Building upon a strong background in the Humanities, she studied at Brera Academy of Fine Arts and The Slade School of Fine Art.

Her research-based practice on the cognitive value of imagination includes looking at the influence of images and imaginative processes in our experience of objects and places. She also considers drawing as an act of simultaneous bodily assimilation and mental cognition filtered by the hand.

She develops exhibition projects, interdisciplinary collaborations and site-specific commissions, as well as participation and education projects.

Her work has been awarded support by Brera Academy, University College London and The Leverhulme Trust. Exhibitions include those at the Palazzo Regione Lombardia (Milan), Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro (Milan), Università Cattolica of Milan for EXPO2015 (Milan), Fondazione Rivolidue (Milan), Arcade (London) and Wysing Arts Centre (Cambridgeshire). She currently is a nominee for Premio San Fedele 2017.

Simon Chambers

Simon studied postgraduate life painting at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1992 to 1994. There he was taught by Norman Norris, Myles Murphy and Euan Uglow. Prior to that he studied painting and life painting at Herts College of Art & Design, Norwich School of Art and Byam Shaw School of Art. In recent years he studied for an MA in Hyperfictions: Interactive Digital Media.

He was awarded the Boise Travel Scholarship UCL, the Aeneas Award, Royal Academy of Arts and a postgraduate bursary in painting from The Worshipful Company of Painter Stainers. After graduating from UCL he qualified as a teacher and has taught and led courses in further and higher education.

His current role is as co-course-leader in Foundation Art & Design at West Herts College. He's a practising artist and is currently Artist in Residence at Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, exploring the theme of Et In Arcadia Ego.

Learning the Slade principles

examples from the life drawing short course

The UCL Slade School of Fine Art has a long history of developing its drawing principles: how to observe and use light and line, how to measure space and form, as well as sharing their extensive research on materials.

Learning about these principles through the eyes of a Slade short course will enrich even the most accomplished artists by reminding them that re-engaging with core principles always encourages them to look at what they do in a new way.

One example of this is a professional such as the senior scenic painter at the Royal Opera House, Malcolm Keys, who attended this course. In his day-to-day work he translates from a small, flat image to the monumental scale of another flat image. He found it quite different, challenging and rewarding to observe and draw directly from the 3D figure instead.

Suitable for any ability and background

These courses are suitable for any level, but if you’re a complete novice, don’t be afraid!

Due to the nature of the teaching and the transferrable nature of the principles you’ll learn, you can be a complete beginner and leave the course equipped with a range of ways to approach drawing any subject. You'll also get to meet some fascinating people within the Slade.

As the course is part of the Summer School, there are many other courses taking place and a variety of extra-curricular events, such as evening talks, that you can attend while you’re there.

Change your perspective and immerse yourself in a fascinating, creative world.

Book now for 31 July Life Drawing - Summer School Short Course


Page last modified on 11 July 2017 11:07