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Introduction to Short Courses Summer 2018 Introduction to Life Drawing Art and Anatomy Botanical Drawing The New Sylva: Drawing Trees with Sarah Simblet The Drawing Book Chinese Calligraphy and Landscape Painting Deconstructing the Cubist Still Life Exploring the Exotic Still Life Life Drawing - term-time classes

The Drawing Book

This week-long course runs from Monday 3 to Sunday 9 September. Based on Dr Sarah Simblet’s internationally renowned book of the same title, this is a practical and inspirational studio course in experimental drawing.  

Set in the magnificent Drawing Studio of the Ruskin School of Art, this course includes practical drawing lessons given through group tuition (with some one-to-one time), visits to museums and collections, daily illustrated lectures on the history, contemporary practice and diverse role of drawing in our lives, demonstrations of materials and techniques, and - on the first day of the course - instruction in how to make your own drawing (sketch) book. The Drawing Book is an in-depth course, accessible and open to everyone. No previous experience is necessary. The course offers a clear foundation in drawing for the absolute beginner and refreshment to the more experienced artist. 

Photo: Psalm Kivinen 

Throughout the week, the practicalities of drawing are broken down into simple parts and explained one by one. For example: frame, plane, shape, space, line, mark, gesture, time, rhythm, speed, form, surface, texture, lighting, illusion and perspective. Sarah also explains the best use of materials such as boards, books and papers, metal point, pencils and crayon, erasers, chalks, charcoal, graphite, fibre tip pens, dip-pens, quill and inks. 

The Ruskin provides essential studio equipment, including a generous quantity of cartridge paper and basic drawing materials. You are invited to bring your own additional materials if you wish, especially if you enjoy working with colour. Plain neutral fabric is provided for the cover of your book. You are welcome to bring your own alternative.

The teaching day runs from 10 am to 5 pm. The studio is open for personal study from 9 am to 6 pm. Light refreshments are available all day. Lunch is not provided but can be purchased from a range of nearby cafes and delicatessens. 

Best course I have ever attended - Course participant 2017

It exceeded expectations because I feel that I understand more about myself as well as drawing... The space was glorious and became home for a week. It all felt natural and embracing. Thank you for a wonderful experience. - Course participant 2017

Photo: Psalm Kivinen 

“There is a point in all our lives when we first control our mark and make it a line, then drag our line into a loop and from that first unit build and describe the shape of something or someone we know. As children we love to draw. Hours are devoured in the inextinguishable blaze of our imaginations wielding across paper brightly coloured crayons, pens and paints... As a teacher of drawing I work with people of diverse ages, aspirations and experience, and I enjoy no greater reward than seeing a beginner’s face illuminated with the surprise of what they can achieve.

"Drawing occupies a unique place in every creator's life, be they a sculptor planning an installation, a fashion designer, architect or engineer, a member of an evening class, a composer notating a score, or a quantum physicist trying to see for themselves the forces and fluctuations of the universe. For me personally, drawing is the most immediate expression of seeing, thinking and feeling, a tool for investigating ideas, a recorder of knowledge, and a reflector of experiences. Drawing is the mirror through which I can understand my place in the world, it shows me how I think and makes me feel excited to be alive.”               Sarah Simblet.



  • Day 1  
  • am:  Course introduction. 
  • Studio demonstration: How to make a sketch book. 
  • pm: Make your own personal sketch book and begin to use it… 
  • Day 2  
  • am: Lecture: Diversity and Meaning in Drawing. 
  • Studio demonstration: Beginning to study the elements of drawing: frame, plane, subject, space and shape.  
  • pm: Studio exercises in composition. (Framing a subject)
  • Day 3
  • am: Lecture on Perspective (Its variations and use).
  • Studio demonstration: how vanishing perspective works.
  • pm: Visit to draw in The Natural History Museum, Oxford.
  • Day 4   
  • am:  Lecture: Expressive mark making. 
  • Studio demonstration. The best use of drawing materials.
  • pm: Studio exercises in handling materials and mark making, with emphasis on using ink. 
  • Day 5   
  • am: Studio demonstration: Metal point drawing. 
  • Drawing Trees in Christ Church Meadows: structural and expressive drawing.
  • pm: Draw outdoors all day (weather permitting and / or in the studio if preferred).
  • Day 6
  • am: Studio demonstration: Light and Tone. Reductive drawing using charcoal and graphite.
  • All day: Observational drawing from still life, (including the option of drawing from a comparative anatomy collection).
  • Day 7   
  • am. Concluding lecture followed by Q&A. 
  • Life drawing all day.
  • An afternoon glass of chilled Prosecco to celebrate the end of the course.


Booking a Place

Booking can be made on the University of Oxford's online store.

Ruskin courses are only available to adults over the age of 16 years. 

There are three payment rates available :

i) Standard Adult : £1015.00

ii) Oxford University students, staff and alumni (10% discount) : £915.00

iii) Students (with a current NUS card) and OAPs (5% discount) : £965.00

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

For information on the Ruskin's cancellation policy in relation to the summer courses, please refer to the short course introductory page


Sarah Simblett's The Drawing Book is published by Dorling Kindersley.