Learning To Draw

Learn to Draw: A Course for Everyone.

Rowden Atelier drawing classes

Drawing in furniture design is an essential skill for any furniture maker. I don’t mean drawing like Leonardo, but well enough to put down a few decent honest lines. Learning to draw is not hard, everyone can draw, just like everyone can learn to drive a car. Cultivating your drawing skills takes some effort, but once you know how to do it, the skill will always be there when you need it.

“You teach drawing really well here, you should offer it to everyone who wants to learn”

– Rose Carter-Stout, a student at Rowden, graduate of Camberwell College of Art

We have been teaching drawing for over 35 years. We base our teachings on the classical methods David Savage learned at the Ruskin School University of Oxford and The Royal Academy Schools in London.

David Savage giving client management tutoring


Now we have now built a new Drawing Studio overlooking pasture going down to our lake. This will be where all the new creative drawing study will be focused.


A view of Rowden Atelier from the lake

Life drawing session

Above shows the Life Drawing studio at the Royal Academy Schools London.  Below are the new art studios being developed now. 

A group of people learning to draw leaves

We aim for you to be able to draw well and to do it in a short space of time. You will be working with Ed Wild, starting with very simple exercises that hopefully will show you that YOU CAN DRAW. Then you will be encouraged to draw on your own 20 minutes a day four times a week. That’s all it takes. After six months, this routine will see you draw really well.


Observational drawing

We begin learning to draw in its simplest form, bringing it back to basics with careful observation and a dozen or so honest lines. This is important. We do this to remove complexity and give you the confidence that you CAN draw. Your focus here is to look very carefully, measure the objects within the space and transfer this information in it’s most simple form – line drawing.

The concept here is not complicated.  You need to learn to draw what you see in front of you. Not what you think you see. Looking very hard. What you draw becomes unimportant – a teacup, a box of matches – soon you will find visual interest in anything and everything.

Learning to Draw
Published in Popular Woodworking magazine

Drawing is just looking very hard.

When you draw, we want you to only use the right-hand side of your brain. Put the command and control system in the left brain to sleep. “Is it too high?”Is it too long a line?” “Is that angle correct?” These are visual thoughts from the right brain. The other stuff, “You can’t draw. Why are you doing this?” “I am bored” – this is the left brain, and it is not allowed in the studio. Leave it at the door.

Enjoy and welcome the calm silence of the drawing studio. This is visual thinking, a kind of active meditation.

“This is similar to going out running or working out. At first it can be draining and hard work. But the more you do it the easier it becomes”.

– David Savage

Learning to draw can be demanding to begin with, it requires a lot of focus and concentration.

Learning to draw is a rewarding experience. Keep everything you create so you can gauge your progress.

Rob Longstaff self portraiture

Our students engage in a series of drawing exercises including self portraiture. This is where you will learn to draw the proportions of the face correctly.

Pictured above is Robert Longstaff’s portraiture drawing. As you can see he has vastly improved throughout the four versions of his drawing. A remarkable transformation during his time here. We make everyone keep the drawings they create as it can be a real confidence booster when you see where you started.

Who should bother?

YOU should bother. Drawing, even very basic drawing, is the way to remember ideas, to put great images into your visual database. Instagram is a good tool as a reference source for images but it is external. Drawing is internal. When you draw that seashell, you install it in the back of your head in the subconscious. When you sit down 30 years later to create an image for a client it’s that seashell that pops off the end of your pencil, clear and fully detailed.

A drawing is like a stick in the ground that you come back to 30 years later to dig beneath and find the idea full and complete.

Drawing is not like building an Instagram library or a Pinterest reference board: they are external. Drawing is internal, drawing builds your personal visual library of images that form your imagination.

What does it mean to learn to draw?

You will be learning to draw in our purpose built Drawing Studio. Here you will have help to begin your creative journey in drawing in furniture design. With a very small group and a tutor there to help and guide you, this is an intimate and transformative creative experience.

Be prepared for a mixture of feelings during the course. It will be a different kind of work, a different kind of thinking, ultimately rewarding and uplifting.


Learning to draw with still life

Being able to transfer the information you see in front of you down on to paper is a vital skill for any furniture designer. Using pencil, ink, or even charcoal, you will learn how to draw what you see, not what you think you see.

These exercises will come in the form of drawing various objects with different levels of difficulty from white geometric objects to textured fruit. A lot is covered in still-life drawing and all of it will help you gain the knowledge to help you believe that You Can Draw. Find out more here!

A palette of watercolours

Learning to draw with Life Drawing

“The concentration in the room is like an exam or a communion. I had forgotten what an intense pleasure just practising life drawing is, the feeling of the charcoal on the paper, the dance of the physical and the mental, the moment when it flows, and the longueurs when you trip over your own finders, the nonchalance of being able to tear off the paper and start again, the complete attention a body demands.”

– AA Gill, ‘All will be revealed’, The Sunday Times magazine

This quote was taken from an article written by the AA Gill, an aspiring artist who went to Slade College of Fine Art then later became a journalist. The full article can be found on The Sunday Times website.

Life drawing, an antidote to the digital age.

Learning to Draw with Watercolour

Watercolour is a great medium to create vibrant yet professional looking drawings. We start you out on the basics and build upon those skills:

  • How to apply the colour
  • How to mix your paint
  • How to create a wash

If you would like to find out more about watercolour, please follow here or choose from the drop-downmenu above.

Course fee and availability Drawing courses are a vital part of our woodworking courses. Please join us for six months or a year.

The fees for the woodworking short and longer courses can easily be found elsewhere on the site.