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Woman drawing

Why you Should Consider a Drawing Class

Are drawing classes worth it?

When you think about drawing classes, there are many that come to mind. Life drawing, freehand and illustration are just a selection. In the wider world, there are some careers that rely on an artistic eye, however these aren’t always in high demand. So, is it worth taking a drawing class, even if you don’t put pencil to paper on a daily basis? We think so, as there are so many other benefits to reap from taking a drawing class that can actually keep you stimulated enough to function and progress in your line of work.

Even if you don’t think you have a knack for art, some of us find ourselves doodling and sketching when we’re either thinking or passing time. According to a Guardian article, professional handwriting analyst Ruth Rostron explained that different types of doodles and sketches can reveal a lot about us as individuals from thriving on a busy schedule to enjoying working closely with others. Chances are, there’s more to a drawing than meets the eye. Find out more below.

Are drawing and sketching the same thing?

There can be some blurred lines between the two, however the general belief is that sketching forms the beginning of a drawing – a first draft, which can appear a little messy but is open to refinement. Sketches is often done freehand as well. A drawing then takes on the more detailed aspect and is a refined and constructed work which may use a combination of drawing instruments.

‘Personally, I sketch quite quickly and roughly as a way of getting my thoughts onto paper; my drawing process is then much longer and more considered, and I tend to work in much more detail and with layers of shading and different grades of pencil,’ explains Emma Shipley, a graphic artist and designer.

The difference between sketching and drawing can vary however, with some people even distinguishing sketching as a stylised form of drawing. Like art itself definitions are open to interpretation.

What are drawing techniques?

In a nutshell, a drawing technique is the method you use when creating your pieces of art. This can be the way you grip your pencil, the way you shade and even the types of materials you use in order to create the effect you’re looking to achieve.

Think of it like Instagram. Those beautifully curated accounts are carefully constructed thanks to certain filters, themes and settings people use in order to create a uniformed look. Everyone has a preference and what looks good is entirely subjective – just like drawing. Shipley, for example prefers a juxtaposed technique.

‘I have developed my own style over the years which is very graphic, using layers of graphite pencil on paper, to create an almost engraved look. I love the term magic realism and this resonates with me as I use elements of reality and fantasy to create something new,’ she said.

Woman sketching

What drawing supplies do I need?

According to Shipley, all you need are ‘some large pieces of paper (doesn’t have to be expensive) - too often I find people using small pieces or tiny sketchbooks and they can be quite limiting. Charcoal is great for expressive marks and working large scale, as are coloured pastels. Some soft graphite pencils (2B - 9B) are great for sketching and shading. Coloured paper can work well if you have a phobia of the blank white page! And make sure you have a soft putty rubber. Artists’ postcards you may have picked up from exhibitions can be a nice starting point of inspiration to surround yourself with.’ 

If you’re not quite confident just yet to go at it alone then perhaps a beginner’s course in drawing to help motivate your creativity may be a good idea. If you like the supportive, classroom feel then this may even spark an interest in other types of classes like life drawing and even illustration.

How does drawing help your mood?

Believe it or not, drawing, even as a hobby, can have soothing effects on our brain and mood. According to The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health, drawing helps to ‘re-activate pleasure centers in the brain.’ Creative activities like artwork can ‘activate the release of pleasure-related neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, reinforcing art as a mood-enhancing experience.’

A lot of insights into how art and drawing in particular can help your mood focuses on the idea that the process of drawing provides a welcomed distraction from negative emotions. Rather than venting and indulging the negative emotions that can consume us, it’s better to think about other things and focus our efforts on other tasks that promote a sense of wellbeing and a positive flow of emotions.

With the ability to increase social support through artistic experiences as well as enhancing communication, it can be argued that the benefits of drawing is an important aid for our continued development and is especially useful when it comes to helping children develop healthy habits and a sense of purpose and mastery.  

Why drawing needs to be a curriculum essential?

I once heard from a teacher who sadly sounded very dismissive of the arts and had almost a nonchalance attitude towards them. It made me wonder about whether other teachers felt the same way about the arts and whether they would ever be a curriculum essential.

‘They’re pointless’ and ‘students know that there isn’t a demand for the arts’ are frankly, in our opinion, massive throwaway statements. Yes, there may not be demand in the arts where jobs are concerned but that doesn’t mean young people should be discouraged from pursuing their passions – even if it doesn’t fall in line with mainstream demands.   

‘I think the arts are hugely important in education and it’s devastating that they seem to be being squeezed out of schools,’ Shipley explained. ‘Even when I was at school, there was definitely a sense that those subjects were not as ‘important’ as more academic subjects. I feel that children should be encouraged to pursue their passions - there are successful and happy people in every industry and certainly not only in conventional ‘academic' professions.’

It is worth noting though that despite creative industries requiring a knack for drawing, there are other unlikely sectors that rely on this skill in order to ‘document, explore, interrogate and plan.’ A Guardian article by Anita Taylor, director of the Jerwood Drawing Prize and dean of Bath School of Design, said that the sectors that incorporate drawing skills also extend to ‘the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine and sport.’ This naturally raises the question of why and when it will be recognised as an essential part to the UK curriculum and perhaps, as Taylor points out, the key to pushing the STEM and STEAM agendas.

In our opinion, taking an art class is absolutely worth the investment.

Feeling inspired to explore your artistic flair?

Browse and compare drawing courses from across the UK!

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Last updated: 03 Dec 2019

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