Leeds, the biggest city in Yorkshire, has been thriving with culture ever since the most famous English painter of all times, J.M.W. Turner, decided to use the city as a source of inspiration for a series of paintings.
The municipal gallery only opened in 1888 but records of large exhibitions being held in the city date back to at least 1839. One wealthy Leodonasian citizen, Thomas Pline, was also the owner of the biggest pre-raphaelite painting collection during the 19th century.
The city also has a history of nurturing great talents such as Kenneth Armitage, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Jacob Kramer, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Edward Wadsworth.
In 2017, The Times newspaper voted Leeds as the most cultural place to live in the UK, ranking it before London or the city of Birmingham. Naturally, you will not be surprised to find out that there are a lot of drawing classes across town.
“The arts, sciences, humanities, physical education, languages and maths all have equal and central contributions to make to a student’s education.”
– Sir Kenneth Robinson, British author, speaker and international advisor on education in the arts
Created in 2007, The Leeds Drawing Club has been holding still-life and life drawing session for the last decade. They provide both tutored and untutored session at their Meanwood Road studio, meaning that beginners and advanced artists welcome.
They also use The Gallery at 164 on Duke Street for their drawing classes.
Their “Tutored Life Drawing Course” is mainly aimed at beginners who wish to learn how to draw. It is a 6-week course offering to teach you about all the techniques and method used in life drawing.
You will be working on a life model, and each of the session will focus on a different method alternating between quick gesture drawing, chiaroscuro or the use of negative space.
All drawing material will be provided (pencil, charcoal, graphite, easel, chalk and paper) and by the end of the workshop, you will be able to draw accurate and proportionate sketches.
This workshop is led by Tessa Houghton, a professional landscape and oil painter who has exhibited her artwork all around the world.
Besides this 6-week course, you can also join one of the many life drawing sessions held by the Leeds Drawing Club. If you book four sessions at once, the fifth one will be free!
A short train ride away, Manchester also offers some great drawing courses. Not quite as north, Birmingham also offers some great drawing classes.
“Arts education is a big part of building a 21st-century creative mind, and I think that we have let way too many kids lose their way by not drawing in their young minds with music, dance, painting and the other various ways we can express those things we do not have words for.”
– Heather Watts, a former principal ballerina with New York City Ballet.
Naturalist and biologist still rely on field drawing to identify new species of animals or insects.
The Leeds Art Group is another great place if you wish to learn the basics of drawing. They offer a similar 8-week long course aimed at beginners.
Once again you will learn the fundamentals of drawing: proportion, shading and composition. The course uses both 2D and 3D subject matter so students can determine the difference that exists in sketching, depending on your subject matter.
At the end of the workshop, you will have acquired the drawing skills and artistic confidence necessary to continue your creative journey.
The Leeds Art Group offer a follow-up course named merely “Beginners Drawing Course Level 2” where students will learn to create drawing from A to Z, using different drawing techniques and drawing methods.
The course can be taken independently but together they offer a solid basis on which to build your artistic talent.
If you which to diversify and learn more about painting, for example, the Leeds Art Group also offers watercolour painting courses for beginners. The logical next step to drawing being to add some colours to your masterpiece, this course will teach you how to mix colours or use your brushes properly.
All courses include all the necessary drawing and painting materials and the price of the workshop also includes a free membership to the Leeds Art Group which entitles you to a 10% discount at Dinsdales art supplies shop in Headingley.
All course are taught at the Headingley Parish Hall on St Michaels Road.
“Scientific research and other studies have demonstrated that arts education can enhance American students’ math and language skills and improve test scores which in turn increase chances of higher education and good jobs in the future.”
– Thad Cochran, American politician and attorney.
Every drawing starts on a blank page or canvass.
The Bowery is a visual art centre taking inspiration from the eponymous neighbourhood in South Manhattan, New York.
It provides gallery space for budding artists and houses a coffee shop.
The courses offered in this hipster art gallery are many: sewing circle, play with clay or writing workout are held all year long but if you wish to learn how to draw you will have to join their “Tutored Life Drawing” class.
During the six weeks of the course, you will work on a life model and develop your observational skill, gain a keen eye for proportion and a swift brush for composition.
The course will approach acrylic and watercolour paint as well as charcoal and oil pastel, making for a thorough base knowledge.
All materials are provided, and all artistic levels are welcome.
“A painter, who finds no satisfaction in mere representation, however artistic, in his longing to express his inner life, cannot but envy the ease with which music, the most non-material of the arts today, achieves this end. He naturally seeks to apply the methods of music to his own art.”
– Wassily Kandinsky, Russian painter and art theorist.
The Swarthmore Center was created in 1909 by Quakers with the aim of offering courses and learning activities in a spirit of equality and fairness. Since then the mission of the centre has remained unchanged, and their Grade II listed building has been an artistic home for the Loiners in search of inspiration and support.
The centre boasts specialist facilities for pottery, jewellery, stained glass, sculpture and computing. Besides that Swarthmore Centre also provides confidential counselling service and on-site childcare.
If you wish to learn how to draw, their “2B Just Pencil” course has been specially created for novices. It is a 10-week class over the course of which you will be able to learn how to use all the different pencils values.
You will also learn about gradient lines, how to create your own tonal value chart for future use, different ways to hold your pencils, how to add tone, texture and perspective to your drawing or how to create a still life to incorporate light, shadow, and reflection.
You will use different mediums including charcoal, stumps and putty rubbers to create contrast in tone.
The tutors will encourage you to practice what you have learned in class and fill as much of your sketchbook as you can at home, on the bus or a visit to the museum.
The Swarthmore Centre fosters a friendly and supportive learning environment, and the experienced tutors will coach each student according to their need and goals.
The courses, held every Wednesday, will start with a recap of the previous session so worry not if you haven’t had time to study.
“I think the problem is when people hear ‘arts education,’ they think, ‘I don’t want my son to be some painter that’s going to be hanging in some museum after he dies. I don’t want my daughter to be a struggling artist making no money.’ People don’t realize it’s more than that. It’s beautiful. It brings beauty to our lives.”
– Brian Stokes Mitchell, American stage, film and television actor and singer.
Every budding artist should keep a drawing notebook and fill it whenever you are feeling inspired.
Inkwell is a safe, creative and accessible space that has been specifically designed to challenge the stigma of mental health. While most of their classes are on referral only, they also have some open courses where everyone is welcome to join.
Their Tuesday morning art school will help you improve your artistic skills using a broad range of media: pencil, pen, charcoal and paints. The sessions are self-directed, meaning that there is no tutor and the participant choose what method and subject to study.
The price of the session is left at your discretion as the centre applies a “Pay As You Feel” policy for its open classes, and even provide with the basic drawing and painting materials.
The school also offers a monthly abstract painting class along with its weekly sewing or felting groups and its monthly jewellery making workshop.
“Civilisations are not remembered by their business people, their bankers or lawyers. They’re remembered by the arts.”
– Eli Broad, American entrepreneur and philanthropist
The non-for-profit Horsforth group was created for the benefit of the North West local community of Leeds.
The leafy Leeds’ neighbourhood of Horsforth, feel like a little village rather than a 20,000 people town just outside of Leeds. In the middle of it, stands the Horsforth Evening Classes school which provides a wide range of course to the locals.
From international crookery to furniture upcycling or Chinese exercise for Health, the school is very trendy, and we can not recommend enough that you book your drawing lessons in advance.
The “Sketch, Draw and Paint” course will cover exactly what it says. Even if you do not have any experience in the domain of the arts, these classes are aimed at learning while having fun.