How to start drawing

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at drawing but are too scared or not sure where to start? The good news is that there are a wealth of classes to choose from in Bristol. Here is the Bristol Drawing School’s guide to getting started.

Bristol Drawing School

Bristol Drawing School


Take a fresh piece of drawing paper and screw it up. This may not be what you would expect when learning draw for the first time, however drawing onto already ruined paper is a great technique to alleviate the fear that the marks made will be ‘wrong’ or irreversible. The beauty of drawing is that there are many ways to do it and every mark you make can be altered, moved or drawn over.  Historic artists such as Picasso, Rembrandt and Da Vinci were constantly working over and changing lines and shapes to achieve their required result. These changes were clearly visible in their drawings and added a certain level of beauty. Although there are successful artists who make very accurate, realistic reproductions of the objects and places they draw, beginners should not labour under the idea that this needs to be their goal too.


Anyone can have a go at drawing and produce wonderful results in a relatively short space of time, by making your own expressive and sometimes unpredictable marks can lead to exciting results. The way wonderful results can be seen from children’s un-inhibited drawing, the same can be said for work by a previously untutored adult. There is a wealth of art around us from carefully detailed work to explosions on canvas; variety is what makes the world of drawing a fascinating place to be and we each have our own unique way to express ourselves. Smudging and smearing charcoal and pastels into the paper, drawing into it with an eraser, or drawing with a sponge and ink are not just fun, but quite liberating and less intimidating ways to draw. It may be pen and ink drawings that tick your box or it could be the texture of pastels on textured paper, painting or even digital drawing on the laptop.


There are exciting discoveries to be made when you are learning and that is where good tutelage plays its part, joining a class can help you to release your creativity and explore your subject. One of the joys of classes is seeing people from all walks of life and backgrounds surprise themselves when they try something new, there is always an air of excitement and you can see people’s confidence growing. Even more satisfying is knowing that some of those people have never set foot into an art class since school.


A good place to start is to identify a course or workshop that allows you to explore and experiment with different materials and mediums, this way you will begin to find drawing materials that you are personally comfortable with. The same thing applies to exploring the variety subject matters, whilst there are similar principles that can be applied to drawing both still life subjects and from life models; most people have a preference of which they like to draw the most. At Bristol Drawing School the Beginners Drawing course is an obvious starting point which will take you through a range of activities, and techniques, from drawing a still life arrangement to trying out drawing a live model all under the reassuring guidance of the tutor.  In a similar vein the Introduction to Life Drawing class is purely focused on drawing from the life model and encouraging different approaches such as looking at light and dark or using collage.

This autumn a new course for all abilities start at the Bristol Drawing School, Drawing on Inspiration and Techniques. This course will tutor students through the ideas that inspire their drawing focusing on experimentation with different mediums and colour.


If the commitment to a longer course does not fit your schedule, then choosing from a variety of 1 or 2 day workshops could be the answer. They run at weekends and it is likely you will find something to suit all budgets. The workshop programme at Bristol Drawing School through the year covers many subjects including drawing insects, interiors, landscape, city buildings, costume digital drawing and illustration for children’s books.


So what should you expect when you join a class? One thing you will get is encouragement, help and re-assurance from the tutor and if you feel a little nervous be assured that the person next to you will be feeling the same way so don’t worry. Week on week friends are made, camaraderie amongst the class grows and I even hear that our Drop-in Life Drawing Class are considering organizing a regular pub night. People join our classes for many different reasons some are more experienced than others and wish to keep practicing their skills, others are there to just switch off from work and relax into a different zone for a few hours each week. Students always say that they learn and feel supported not just by the tutor but also from the other students in their class.


So what to do next? Summer term workshops are running from now until the end of August and autumn term courses start in September so check out what is on offer. For Bristol Drawing School visit




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