In this section

Life Drawing - term-time classes Introduction to Short Courses Summer 2019 Art and Anatomy Anatomy, Form, Personality: Sculpting the Head: The Archaeology of the Self The Art of Wax: Flesh and Mortality Botanical Drawing Chinese Calligraphy and Landscape Painting Deconstructing the Cubist Still Life Drawing Book: experiments on paper Exploring the Exotic Still Life Introduction to Life Drawing Introduction to Screen Printing

Art and Anatomy

Taught by the Ruskin School of Art's Tutor of Anatomy, Sarah Simblet, this unique intensive seven-day programme is held twice over the summer, in July and again in September.
Photograph: Sarah MacDonald, 2018

The Ruskin’s Art and Anatomy course is based on Dr Sarah Simblet’s well-known book, Anatomy for the Artist, (2001). Sarah teaches the course alongside the sculptor and anatomical artist Eleanor Crook.

Art and Anatomy is a seven-day immersive course dedicated to understanding, appreciating and making art from human anatomy, taught through drawing, sculpting, practical demonstration and richly illustrated lectures and slide talks. Topics include the skeleton, muscles, tendons and ligaments; how these work in the living figure to produce pose and movement; how anatomical artists in the past have investigated and been inspired by the body; comparing human and animal bones; observational and expressive modes of drawing, on a small and large scale.

Photo: Nancy MacDonald 2018

The course focuses on the systematic study of Anatomy explored through drawing large scale and in sketch books using graphite, charcoal, brush and ink and coloured pens. You will be taught methods of sculpting using a tactile and expressive modelling wax laid over simple armatures and skulls. Drawing and sculpture are encouraged as processes of research and thinking, as tools for seeing and recording information and ideas. 

Photo: Nancy MacDonald 2018

Muscles of facial expression are explored through sculpting wax over a plaster skull (yours to keep) and a special session is given on forensic facial reconstruction and identity. The torso is sculpted in wax from a life model with very defined muscle anatomy and there is a whole day of drawing from a live model holding static poses and in motion. This course helps you to relate the study of anatomy to your own art practice and interests; developing your personal drawing skills by applying them to this fascinating field with its deep connection to both historic and contemporary art practice. 

You can look forward to leaving with a portfolio full of new work, a deeper understanding of the human body and a wealth of creative ideas for future development.

Photo: Nancy MacDonald 2018

"Fabulously high level of expertise from tutors; very energetic, challenging and demanding (in a good way – no dumbing down). And very friendly, warm, welcoming, supportive & generous. And the facilities (space, materials) were superb." Course participant

"The lectures were given with a sense of a genuine love of the subject. Excellent, extensive knowledge from the tutors. Very inspirational."  Course participant



Two identical courses are offered, one at the beginning of the summer, and one at the end.

Monday 22 - Sunday 28 July 2019 


Monday 9 - Sunday 15 September 2019

  • Day 1: Structural Drawing
  • Day 2: The Skeleton
  • Day 3: Musculature
  • Day 4: Wax modelling Head & Neck
  • Day 5: Wax Modelling Ecorché (muscle figure)
  • Day 6: Personal studio time with tutor
  • Day 7: Life Drawing

Each teaching day runs from 10am to 5pm and begins with a lecture or demonstration, which leads to morning and afternoon sessions of studio work drawing and making, followed by evening lectures from Sarah or Eleanor. The studio is also open for personal study from 9am to 6pm daily. 

There is a maximum of 16 places on this course. It is taken by amateur and professional artists of both traditional and contemporary practice, sixth formers, teachers, medical students and professionals, and practitioners from fields as diverse as accountancy, para-medicine and ballet. Everyone brings a wealth of life experience and individual interests in the subject. There is plenty of studio space and all materials are provided. 

Teaching is based in the Ruskin's studios at 74 High Street, Oxford OX1 4BG. Light refreshments are available all day. Lunch can be purchased from a range of nearby cafes and delicatessens.

Tuition is in English. No academic or artistic criteria are required for attendance on this course although all participants must be 16 and over. Please be aware that there is limited disabled access at the Ruskin.

For further information, please email, or phone: +44-(0)1865 276940

Photo: Nancy MacDonald, 2018

Booking a Place

Booking is done through the University of Oxford's Online Store. We regret that the Ruskin cannot reserve places or take payment for bookings. 

There are three payment rates available :

i) Standard Adult : £1,075.00

ii) Oxford University students, staff and alumni (10% discount) : £970.00

iii) Students (with a current NUS card) and over-65s (5% discount) : £1025.00

If you select a discounted booking rate, you will need to present your University alumni/staff card, NUS card, or some form of identification indicating your OAP status at the start of the course.

These courses are non-residential – participants must arrange their own travel and accommodation. To enjoy the full Oxford University experience, we recommend booking accommodation in nearby colleges through University Rooms (guests must be 21 or over, or accompanied by someone over 21).


Cancellation Policy

Please note the Ruskin's cancellation policy for the summer short courses. These policies are in contrast to the terms and conditions listed on the online store and take precedence over that policy.

Deposit, calculated as 15% of the course fee, applies to all courses.

Any booking that is cancelled more than one month before the start date of a course will receive a refund of any fees paid minus the Deposit.

Cancellations received within one month of the start of a course will not be eligible for any refund. The Ruskin strongly recommends that customers take out travel insurance against loss of the course fee in case they need to cancel at short notice due to unforeseen circumstances.

Where a customer wishes to cancel a place on one course and transfer to another, this refund policy will normally apply.

The Ruskin reserves the right to cancel a course up to one month before the start date of a course, beyond that point, a course will be guaranteed. If a course is cancelled by the school, participants will be refunded in full. 

Photo: David Tolley