Cat drawing for stage 1 of drawing masterclasses

Our Drawing Masterclasses are a five-week course for children aged 7-14, teaching various skills and techniques all centred around soft-pencil sketching. There are three stages to the course, recommended to be taken in sequence. Find out more information about these classes here.

Read below for two of our Drawing Masterclass success stories, involving an award-winning portrait, and an ambitious family sketching project…

Rubio looking at his self-portrait

As a result of attending Drawing Masterclasses for just under a year, 9-year-old Rubio had his self-portrait (created during a class)  accepted as part of the Royal Academy Young Artists Summer Show, displayed online. His time with AATH saw his confidence sky-rocket and the combination of innovative teaching and Rubio’s determination culminated in this remarkable drawing.

Impact of Drawing Masterclasses:

Support from AATH Director Mukesh – he ‘completely changed my idea of drawing’ and ‘seemed like the right person to learn with’. While Rubio was initially apprehensive about Zoom classes, he soon established a rapport with Mukesh and the other members of the class which enabled him to excel

Practical artistic skills – making work look 3D, techniques such as shading, blending, adding highlights with a rubber

Easing anxiety – Mukesh helped Rubio to ‘loosen up’ and become less worried about making mistakes. He now fills his room with his sketches and paintings (even the very first attempts!) as an expression of pride 

A supportive group environment – with regular classes taking place on Zoom over the lockdown, and positive feedback encouraged to boost group morale. This focussed time during lockdown helped Rubio develop self-motivation and perseverance 

'Serious Self-Portrait'

Rubio's self-portrait

The title of the portrait was generated during a Drawing Masterclass;  when showing his work to the class, Mukesh said ‘Wow, now that’s a serious self-portrait’, inspiring its quirky heading. Rubio was inspired enough to continue to develop the portrait outside of classes, taking two weeks to complete.

Rubio also built on skills learned from Mum Emily, an award-winning sculptor and installation artist. Emily praised Mukesh’s ability to engage the children over Zoom: ‘He’s so patient and positive’; ‘he really respects your ability to learn and to take it on’. Classes described by Emily and partner Ed as ‘fun’, ‘engaging’ and  ‘magical’, and consequently the family have spread the word to their art-loving friends.

Having attended Drawing Masterclasses (stage 1 and 2) remotely over the lockdown, Brothers Woody and Eli were inspired to complete an ambitious and wonderfully heartfelt family portrait project. This included 16 individual portraits of family members and pets (each one AO size), presented as a Christmas present to their grandmother. The lockdown period gave the boys a focus and an opportunity to combine techniques learnt with AATH and feelings of compassion for their family to make something incredible.

Woody and Eli's family portrait project, including 16 individual portraits of family members and pets

Impact of Drawing Masterclasses

Practical skills – the boys worked on a range of drawings such as self-portraits and animal studies, enabling them to take on a huge project. The snow leopard study from Stage 1 particularly helped with creating textured fur for the pet portraits 

Techniques learnt from AATH Director Mukesh – pencil shading, tone, texture, attention to detail. This allowed the boys to “improvise” with certain details, for example adding on a beard for a particular family member who had only recently acquired facial hair!

Perseverance – project took a total of 3 weeks, inspired by dedicated sketching time during art classes. The boys described the completion of the project as ‘conquering Mount Everest’

Confidence – zoom classes encouraged sharing work and giving positive and constructive feedback – the boys were able to share the finished piece across the extended family and with teachers and peers at school 

Drawings of Woody's family members and two cats

Mum Sarah, herself a creative practitioner, noted AATH’s rigorous support – ‘What really stood out is your ambition for the kids’, she said. Art lessons challenged the boys further than they would have been at school, and  ‘upped the ambition of what they could achieve.’