You can still draw

The luck of the draw

You may not have tried to create a picture since a Year Nine art class. We spoke to Clara Drummond, winner of this year’s BP Portrait Award and a teacher at the Royal Drawing School, about rediscovering the delights of drawing.

Everyone can draw
“Drawing is a visual language we’re all comfortable with when we’re young,” says Clara. “Along the way people become alienated or discouraged, but there’s no such thing as not being able to draw. The best way is to put practice before theory and just pick up a pencil and start.

“I often go to festivals and set up drawing pop-ups. There are hundreds of people walking past, so we say that people can pre-book or drop in. In a one-hour session there’s time to experiment with different warm-up exercises and different drawing materials.

“The main thing is not to feel afraid.”

You can find confidence and thoughtfulness
“People find joy in rediscovering drawing. Many people have a lot of happy childhood memories attached to it. When people find out that they can draw after all, that’s a huge confidence boost. It’s a different way of finding a voice.

“Also, every mark is a decision. You need to focus on what you are putting down and that process of being absorbed is good for us. It’s good for our brains to focus. There’s something natural and healthy about deep concentration.

“Drawing also teaches people to look. We’re busy, with many interruptions and millions of sources of information coming at us. When drawing you have to engage and concentrate on what you’re looking at.”

How to get started
“In terms of first steps, I would recommend finding a drawing class. There’s something very special about finding a group of like-minded people.

“If that’s really not for you, or it’s not possible, there are things you can do on your own. There’s a simple exercise I can recommend. At the beginning of each day fold a piece of paper in a concertina to form five spaces, or just allow five pages of your sketch book. Then do five two-minute drawings. You can walk from one place to another, stop every 10 paces and draw something you see. It doesn’t matter if you look straight up at the sky or down at the ground. You could sit in your house at a table and look in five different directions. You shouldn’t feel any pressure to perform, it’s about getting started and getting in to the right mindset.”

This July, Clara will be teaching at the Royal Drawing School’s Summer School: Inspired By Flora: From Botanical Gardens To Persian Carpets, Matisse And O’Keeffe (4-7 July), and later this year The Contemporary Portrait: Drawing And Painting and Drawing A Story. For more information click here.