The City of a Thousand Trades got its nickname from its important manufactured goods industry. In fact, most of finished manufactured goods and luxury products made in England and exported in Europe during the 18th and 19th century was made in Birmingham.
Most fine arts artists that made a name for themselves during the Golden Era of Birmingham had a background in commerce or craft. David Cox, one of the most famous landscape painter from Birmingham, was initially trained as a theatrical scenery painter.
Conroy Maddox, a leader of the Birmingham surrealist movement, first work in advertisement and graphic design, so did Peter Phillips, a Brummie pop-art artist still producing artwork today.
With such a rich artistic heritage, one can wander in Birmingham, from museum to museum, admiring some of the most extensive collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery or appreciate modern art at the Ikon Gallery.
With more than 25 museums, Birmingham is the cultural centre of the English Midlands and the perfect setting for anyone wanting to take on drawing as a hobby or a career.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists
Bases in the famous Jewellery Quarter of the city, the Birmingham Society of Artists was founded in 1821 and received its royal charter in 1868.
The original group of artist who founded the Society, made of Samuel Lines, Moses Haughton, Vincent Barber and Charles Barber, also established the Birmingham Academy of Arts.
In both instances, the aim was to promote fine arts in the English society. The RBSA successfully did so by significantly contributing to the Pre-Raphaelite movement initiated in the mid 19th century and by being very much involved in the British Art and Craft movement towards the end of the 19th century.
As part of its continuing work to promote art and artists in the Birmingham area, the RSBA provides many drawing classes and workshop for both kids and adults.
For the apprentice drawing artists out there, the RSBA offers a "Foundations of Portraiture" class once a month. During the 3 hours sessions, students, beginners and intermediate drawers alike, will learn to create the foundations of a good portrait step by step, from the rough lines and shapes to the complete monochrome portrait composition of a life model.
“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.”
The Independent Art School Birmingham
The Independent Art School of Birmingham is a non-for profit organisation which aims " to make art more accessible to people of all ages and abilities".
The "all are welcome" approach of the school is its greatest asset, especially if you are a complete newbie in the domain of the arts and feel a bit too shy to join a drawing studio.
The IAS also provides classes in London and courses in the city of Manchester, but their journey began in Birmingham in 2009. Their team of tutors, made up of practising artists, offer a wide range of art classes, making it very easy for you to pick and choose and build a whole curriculum out of their short courses.
For those wanting to gently start learning how to draw, the "Life Drawing for Creative Development" the IASB offer in its Custard Factory studios is perfect. During the weekly Tuesday session, each student is given a chance to work on a life model and learn how to represent the humane figure.
Life drawing being the most complicated type of artwork a visual artist can undertake, it is usually the base of any art education and a great way to improve in painting or sculpting.
If you have a bit more time and are dedicated to learning how to draw, the IASB also offer art tuition for adult beginners. Their tuition board will match you with an experienced tutor making sure to find the perfect teacher to help you achieve your goals.
Further North, you will also find some great drawing classes in Leeds.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
Mac Birmingham Studio Days
The Mac Birmingham was inaugurated in 1962 and has since been on the forefront of contemporary art. Not only does it hold visual art exhibition all year round but is also an art complex offering theatre and dance programmes, concerts and movie projections and even a comedy club.
Its "Introduction to Portraiture Drawing" class does not require you to have any prior drawing experience as it will teach you how to draw from scratch.
This 12-week course will give you an understanding of the drawing techniques used to render lines, lighting, tone, form and details. It will develop your observational skills, and you will also be taught how to manage your drawing time and how to plan your sketching sessions.
At a pace of two hours a week, Milan Topalovic, the instructor, will teach you the fundamentals of drawing, giving you all the tools to be able to draw a perfect portrait.
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The Mac provides some primary drawing material such as pencils, graphite, charcoal erasers and sharpeners, but students are welcome to bring other materials, especially if they wish to use watercolours or pastels.
The mac also offers a wide range of art tuition such as an "Introduction to Art Techniques", "Introduction to Oil Painting Techniques". It also offers an excellent "See it, Draw It, Paint It" class covering all the basics of drawing and painting "through an investigation of how we see our environment and how we choose to represent it"
“An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have.”
The Atrix Art Centre Drawing Workshop
The Atrix Theatre is located in Bromsgrove a few miles south-east of Birmingham. Its affiliated Atrix Art Centre offers term-long drawing workshop, led by Madeline Goold, a professional stone carver of thirty years who apprenticed under some of the greatest names of the craft.
Limited to 10 students per class, the weekly sessions will be teaching you how to use a wide array of tools and media such as pencil, pen, fingers, sticks, crayon, brush and watercolour and gouache, pastel, charcoal and chalk, graphite, on paper, card, tissues and fabrics, and found materials.
You will study the different purpose of drawing and learn how to take your project from a simple sketch to a complete composition all that using a range of techniques such as traditional mark-making, drawing, sketching, writing, collage, linear, rubbing back, resists, cutting and pasting.
The sculptor background of Goold will also give you an excellent insight on how to use drawing as a preparatory tool for other arts such as painting, sculpting, collaging or even animation.
“Without magic, there is no art. Without art, there is no idealism. Without idealism, there is no integrity. Without integrity, there is nothing but production.”
The Birmingham Adult Education Service
The BAES offer a very comprehensive Drawing and Painting course for beginners. Spread over either 12 or 24 weeks with a two-hour session at a time, this course will teach you everything from the basic principles of drawing, the laws of painting with at least one type of paint, the importance of observational skills, how to use and store equipment and will give you an introduction to art historical movements and styles.
This course will give you an opportunity to learn some of the essentials techniques of painting and drawing, and by the end of it, each student will have produced an extensive artwork portfolio, most likely covering many styles and using different media.
The cost of the course, however, does not include art materials and you will be required to purchase the essential such as soft drawing pencils, a folder for your work and a sketchpad. Eventually, you will also need to get paints, brushes, etc.
“All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn't your pet -- it's your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.”
Art Classes By Peter Tinkler
Another Birmingham based popular drawing class drawing is held at St Paul's Church in the area of the Jewellery Quarter. The church doesn't have any art besides its stained glass windows and its 1830 organ, but it hosts to drawing and painting classes every week.
Tutored by professional artist Peter Tinkler, those classes can be joined for one, two or three months during which you will learn everything from pencil drawing and graphite sketching to oil and watercolour composition.
Portrait painting, still life sketch or landscape illustration, every subject will be approached and since each classroom is limited to a dozen students at a time you are guaranteed to get some very personal teaching sessions.
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Find a Private Tutor
If you think that you would prefer having a one-on-one session with a private tutor rather than joining a class, one of the easiest way to find a drawing teacher is to check on Superprof. All our instructors are professional artists or teacher who will use their many years of experience to teach you all you need to know about the art of drawing.