Welcome to the February issue of Drawing Matters. Apologies for receiving it twice - a premature slip of the finger on the send button - but this one is the complete version including this month's Virtual Visit rather than a repeat of last month's!

As the days get longer and lighter and we can feel the scent of spring in the air, it's often a reminder to think ahead and start putting plans into place. If learning to draw is on your list of 'things to do' in 2008 then check out below the 5-day Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain course being held in London. Other courses held in the USA can be found at the link at the bottom of the page.

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This month's newsletter contains the following:

  • the latest course dates for the 5-day Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain workshop in the UK in 2008

  • The course below is a non-residential workshop in London. In the future I am planning to run residential courses in locations around the UK.

  • the selected Book of the Month

  • Drawing Coach Suggestions to help with your drawing

  • Virtual Visit This month's visit is to the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci

  • What's On brings you news of any drawing-related exhibitions or events taking place online or in the UK

  • I hope you will find it interesting and I'd love to hear any comments on suggestions from you. You can contact me here

    Anna Black

    Learn to Draw in 2008

    If you've always wanted to learn to draw, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a proven technique for teaching drawing - particularly to those people who swear they could never be taught to draw!

    If you want to learn the five basic skills needed for realistic drawing you can do it a five-day intensive course. I am now taking registrations for the next course.


    WHEN? Monday 23 June-Friday 27th June 2008
    9.30am to 5.30pm

    WHERE? Maria Assumpta Centre, 23 Kensington Square, London W8 5HN Nearest tube: High Street Kensington (District Line)

    HOW MUCH? £475

    Special price of £425 if you book and pay in full before 1st April 2008

    Course fee includes:

    • 35 Hours of teaching
    • The Drawing Portfolio (RRP £50).
      All the materials you will need for the course, including drawing tools unique to Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

      See full list of contents here

      If you are still sceptical that you will really learn the basic skills of drawing in just five days, here are some drawings by three different participants. None of them had any significant previous drawing experience or teaching.

      The first "proper" drawing students do is drawing their own hand. This challenging foreshortened view was completed on the 2nd day of instruction.

      This drawing of a chair was done on the 2nd day of instruction.

      This sighting drawing was done on the 3rd day of instruction.

      On Day 5, participants do a self-portrait, bringing together all the skills they have learned

      To find out more about how the course is structured and what you will learn, click here

      For further information and a booking form, click here

      Find out what other people have thought of the Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain drawing course devised by Betty Edwards - Read more here


      Whether it's for a birthday, anniversary or just so someone can show you they are supporting you... contributing to the cost of a drawing course is a great way for family and friends to help you with your drawing - as well as learn a skill for life.

      Gift vouchers are available in amounts of £25, £50 and £100 and can be redeemed in full or as part payment on Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain courses offered by Anna Black only.

      To purchase a gift voucher contact me here


      “Because drawing class doesn't just teach people to draw. It teaches them to be more observant. There's no company on earth that wouldn't benefit from having people become more observant."
      Randy S. Nelson How Pixar Adds a New School of Thought to Disney by William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre New York Times, 29 January 2006)


      We use props in teaching Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain such as the proportion finder and the viewfinder and people sometimes feel it’s cheating. Our suggestion is that you see them like trainer wheels when you are learning to ride a 2-wheel bike. You use them at first but then you reach a point where they’re redundant and you can fly solo…I think too it’s helpful to know that even the greatest of artists had no qualms in making the most of anything technology could offer them – and this month’s book explores this very subject.

      Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the lost techniques of the Old Masters David Hockney
      (Thames & Hudson, 2001. 2nd Revised edition in Paperback published 2006)
      In Secret Knowledge David Hockney explores how artists of the past managed to depict the world so vividly. This book documents his explorations, his discoveries and his opinions as he explores the work of artists such as Caravaggio, Velasquez, van Eyck, Holbein, Leonardo and Ingres. He describes how they made use of innovations of the time such as lenses and mirrors to create their masterpieces.
      This book aroused great controversy when it was first published and the crux of that is the debate about whether it is ‘cheating’ to use tools in drawing/painting. Hockney, rebuffs this view and says rather than attacking the idea of innate genius “optics would have given artists a new tool with which to make images that were more immediate, and more powerful". Hockney concludes that this does not "diminish their achievements. For me, it makes them all the more astounding".
      I love this book for more than the content of the text - the quality of production is superb – over 400 top-quality colour illustrations, many of them full page and including details of major works, plus gatefolds all provide a wonderful resource for anyone interested in art. You can drown in the colour images….

      It also includes Hockney’s correspondence during the two-year period of writing the book as well as examples of his own work. There are detailed explanations of various optical aids – what they look like, how they work and the effects they have on drawing. It includes extracts from writings of the Old Masters themselves, revealing the fascination and interest in the new ‘magick’ of lenses. The revised edition includes new material and is available in paperback.


    • Make a list of things to draw and each time just pull off the first thing on the list. Here's a start: draw a shoe; an egg beater; the first thing you pull out of the kitchen implements draw, your hand; your foot; objects on the mantlepiece; a pair of spectacles...
    • Sign, date and keep your work as a record of your progress. Seeing how you are improving will spur you on.
    • Don’t give up halfway through a drawing – push through the self-judgment barrier of ‘this drawing is rubbish’. Just keep going regardless and see what happens. It’s a drawing not a work of art…
    • Stand back from your drawing as often as you can, walk away and come back and see it with fresh eyes. When you think you’ve ‘finished’, leave it propped up, go away and keep coming back to it, you’ll soon notice anything that looks ‘off’.
    • Turn a drawing upside down – areas that aren’t quite working will jump out at you.
    • For every critical comment you make on your finished drawing, match it with one positive thing you are pleased with. It could just be the fact that you didn’t give up or the way you’ve caught the light in one spot. Look at your own work as you would look at someone else’s and be as kind to yourself as you would be to them.


    It can be hard finding the time to get to an art gallery or museum and too often, when we do, we don’t get to see what we want. Drawings in particular are often not on permanent view. However, many collections allow online which is a chance to see close up how artists before you have handled different genres and different media.
    Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was the archetypal ‘Renaissance Man’ - a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, scientist and writer. His ideas are brought to life so vividly through his drawings – he worked through his ideas and inventions with his pencil leaving behind a legacy that still enthralls today.
    View Leonardo's drawings here.

    Some Leonardo trivia
    • He was illegitimate and brought up by his father – and between his parents he was supplied with 17 half brothers and sisters (with different partners)
    • He was left-handed (at a time when this was considered to be ‘evil’ and left-handers were taught to use their right hand from an early age)
    • He was vegetarian and reputedly would buy caged animals from the market just so he could let them free.
    • It has been suggested that the Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait of Leonardo himself!
    • Although later in life he suffered a paralysis in his right hand he continued to teach and draw.
    • When he died in 1519, legend has it that King Francis I of France was at his side and cradled his head.

    WHAT'S ON?

    Although the following event occurs in London it's always worth checking out what your local museums offer in the way of workshops, events and courses. If they don't - perhaps they will if you ask! You can always just take along your sketch book and look for inspiration among the exhibits Royal Academy, London Offer practical drawing workshops in their historic life rooms in the Royal Academy of Art. These offer a great opportunity to experience drawing in the same rooms as some of the greatest artists. These workshops are very popular and sell out almost as soon as they are advertised so it's worth subscribing to their newsletter if you'd like to find out in time. Search Workshops & Events from their home page here

    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain USA

    To find out about Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain courses run by Brian Bomeisler in the USA visit


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    Anna Black

    Contact Anna here