Rubio looking at his self-portrait

Having attended Art at the Heart’s classes for just under a year, 9-year-old Rubio has progressed from cautious sketcher to exhibiting artist! His self-portrait was recently accepted as part of the Royal Academy Young Artists Summer Show, displayed online. He said that his time with Art at the Heart ‘completely changed my idea of drawing’ and gave him the skills and confidence required to fly high.

Before Art at the Heart, Rubio would see artists shading their drawings and making them look 3D, but he didn’t think he’d ever be able to do that himself. But after attending several Me&MyPencil classes on Zoom, he was soon developing techniques and bringing his sketches to life. Art at the Heart Director Mukesh ‘seemed like the right person to learn with’, he said.


'Serious Self-Portrait'

Rubio's self-portrait

Rubio’s portrait was developed during an Art at the Heart class. Mukesh taught Rubio techniques such as shading, blending and erasing as a drawing technique. Some parts of the drawing were quite tricky, such as getting the nose to ‘stick out’ in 3D, and shading the bottom of the chin carefully to avoid it looking like a beard! The portrait took two weeks to complete, with Rubio dedicating extra time outside of classes to finishing the piece. When showing his work to the class, Mukesh said ‘Wow, now that’s a serious self-portrait’, which inspired the title!

Rubio comes from a very arty household – in fact he’s been acting as an exhibition assistant for his mum Emily, an award-winning sculptor and installation artist, since he was about 8 weeks old! He learnt many skills from Emily, such as pottery and clay-sculpting, giving him an excellent foundational knowledge for Art at the Heart’s classes. Building on this, Mukesh has helped him to ‘loosen up’ with his drawing style and become less worried about making mistakes.

The Impact of Art at the Heart

Art at the Heart helped Rubio to feel more confident as an artist, and gave him a new community during lockdown isolation. All of Rubio’s art classes were based online, where he saw familiar faces each week and made some new friends.  This was an invaluable burst of fun and creativity during an otherwise dull and difficult time.

Mum Emily has praised the way that Mukesh was able to engage the children over Zoom, despite the challenging content of the art classes. ‘He’s so patient and positive’, she said, ‘and he really respects your ability to learn and to take it on’. Giving and encouraging feedback during the classes gave Rubio and the rest of the group a boost, and the use of technical terms, for example tone, expanded everyone’s artistic knowledge. Emily described the classes as ‘fun’, ‘engaging’ and generally ‘magical’!

At the beginning of Ru’s time with Art at the Heart, Emily said, ‘I can see how over the week’s Ru’s drawing will really develop as he gains confidence’. And that’s exactly what happened – with the help of dedicated support, focussed discussion and constructive feedback from Mukesh, Rubio’s work has reached new heights. His self-portrait is displayed proudly within the Royal Academy Young Artists online exhibition, as a testimony to what can be achieved through natural talent, and wholehearted assistance and guidance from Art at the Heart.

Enjoyed this? Read another success story: Woody and Eli’s Family Portrait Project