Figure drawing – quick studies with James Napier


Ref: SLW12285

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About this course

Drawing from the model in short poses you will learn to keep your drawing loose, bold and confident, in turn concentrating on big picture principles such as gesture, body type, mass, essence of the figure and light and shade.

Course Description

This course will teach you how to draw from a life model using quick, short poses through a variety of structured exercises to encourage you to capture the essence of the model.  You will build confidence in drawing the figure through bold gestural marks to capture the essence of the figure and pose.

The exercises will comprise of:
- Quick block-in drawings using pencil and making as few lines as possible.  The aim being to concentrate on gesture and body type only. You will focus on contour lines and only the internal information necessary to help structure the proportions of the figure.

- Pen drawing using black ink pens where you will experiment with texture and mark-making. The fact that the lines cannot be erased should lead to an interesting finish where you have to rework and layer lines on top of each other.

- Wipe-out with charcoal drawing using a charcoal base on the paper, you will use an eraser to take away the mass of the light shapes. Here you will consider mass as your drawing tool with no lines.

- Gesture drawing using an initial curve, you will summarise the pose in one line of gesture and build the contour on top of that. The main aim of this exercise is to use a loose approach that forces you to look at the bigger picture.

- Quick drawing exercises will help you loosen up your approach to the figure by working within a limited time period. By drawing several dynamic poses quickly you will focus on key elements such as gesture/rhythm and line.

- Block drawing, where you will build the figure on the page using blocks and geometric shapes only. The aim of this exercise is to understand how to simplify and group the masses in the figure into large simplistic shapes.

- Three value figure studies using the three value groups only: light, halftone and shadow.  The key goal of this exercise is for you to be able to compress the varying values on the human form into three clear groups.

- Drawing from memory. This exercise will help you develop your visual memory by capturing the essence of the figure rather than focusing on details.

By the end of the course you will have a series of quick gestural drawings using a variety of methods to gain confidence in your figure drawing skills. 


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


On this course the tutor will supply most of the materials including pencils, paper charcoal, eraser, sharpener white chalk and pens.
The College will provide a model for the duration of the course.

Available to buy

Available from shop:
General art materials are available from the shop including a good selection of drawing materials and paper.

Available from tutor:
The tutor will have a variety of drawing materials you may wish to purchase.

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or a Diploma in Art and Contemporary Crafts (10 three-day study blocks, over two years). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.

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