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Continuing Education

hand drawing an animal in a sketchbook with pencil

Continuing Education

Introduction to Drawing

Introduction to Drawing

Fridays, March 16th to May 25th, 7:00 - 9:00 pm.

Location: Traill College, Scott House 105, 300 London Street.

Cost: $20 per class (+ HST) before March 9th. $30 per class (+ HST) after March 9th.

Register online at https://www.regonline.com/introductiontodrawing or in person with cash or cheque at Scott House Room 102.4, 300 London Street, Traill College.

How do we learn to draw? By learning to see and explore the world as we see it through mark making. This course incorporates a wide array of fine art drawing materials and explores a number of different artistic techniques and themes including: gesture, mark making and the cultural construction of the visual space. Furthermore, this course will foster critical inquiry, curiosity, risk taking, creative thinking as well as the use of symbolism and storytelling. This is an introductory studio class that explores the making of two dimensional works using a variety of mediums and techniques. This course serves as an introduction to drawing through the exploration of material and concepts including an active participation approach in aesthetic theory for the application of drawing as a visual art and encourages critical engagement with various theories of seeing.

Course Pre-requisites: none

Required Texts: Reading list will be provided to students

Required Materials:


  • Pad of good drawing paper, minimum 18” x 24” in size. Strathmore, Canson, or other drawing pads are acceptable.
  • One pad of newsprint or craft paper, 18 x 24 minimum.
  • One 9” x 12” sketchbook.

Mark-making and other supplies:

  • One each of the following drawing pencils: 6b, 2b, Hb, 2H, 4H or One complete set of pencils
  • One bag of mixed-size or large-size Willow Charcoal or equivalent.
  • Compressed charcoal - 4b or 6b. Buy 2 sticks.
  • Conte crayons: 2 sticks of soft black, 2 sticks of terra cotta or other warm earth tone, 2 sticks of white.
  • Graphite stick. 6b or 4b
  • 1 round watercolor-type brush
  • 1 or 2 oz. bottle of black India Ink
  • Ink pen and metal nibs (sets are best value)
  • Erasers: 1 Art Gum, 1 White Vinyl Pen Eraser, 1 Kneaded
  • Drafting Tape or other low-adhesive tape.
  • Box for supplies
  • Drawing board large enough to accommodate an 18” x 24” sheet of paper.

By the end of the course a successful student should:
1. Use a variety of drawing media to communicate two-dimensionally.
2. Illustrate conceptual and schematic ideas through the use of a variety of dry and wet drawing media.
3. Compose elements on a two-dimensional plane to produce various effects.
4. Create the illusion of light, shadow, tone, and texture on a two-dimensional plane.
5. Use basic one-point and two-point perspective to produce the illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface.
6. Produce drawings which accurately represent still life and figurative subjects.
7. Research and apply specialized knowledge to complete assignments.
8. Assess their body of work and compile drawing components for the weekly class critiques and the group show.

Friday March 16: The Beginning

Students will experiment with notions of what drawing is and what it can be. We will practice with a variety of drawing mediums and will examine various collage and transfer techniques. We will begin to create a sketchbook. The class will examine making their own sketchbook, as well as various methods by different artists. Students will pick one of their drawings to present to the class, who will then critique each drawing and discuss as a class.

Friday March 23: The Elements of Drawing

Students will develop an understanding of the relationship between the history of art/ drawing and contemporary art practice. We will practice elements such as line, shape, volume, value, space and texture. We will also practice balance, proportion, rhythm, emphasis and unity. Students will examine the work of others both contemporary and historic. The class will then pick an artist and create a study of one of their works.

Friday March 30: There is no class tonight because of Good Friday.

Friday April 6: Drawing From the Imagination - Dreaming on Paper (Part One)

Students will learn how to tell stories through the details in their drawings. The class will examine the art of illustration including children’s illustration, posters and media applications. They will also learn to build on their own ideas by borrowing ideas from different cultures. We will begin to generate ideas by “doodling”, this is a “play-based” stage. The goal is to get something on paper that can be transformed into a final work. Students will experiment with mark marking, geometric patterns, shadowing, silhouetting, multiplying, inverting and repeating. Other experiments will include “making the familiar new”, unlikely mixing of objects, the inversion of images, story-telling with words and pictures and the creation of a character. Imagination is closely linked to observation and seeing. We will examine the concept of “utilitarian seeing” and will experiment in various methods including shape and line, crumpled and crushed objects, abstract shapes, macro drawing, distorted and exaggerated reflections, distorted scale, perspective grids, mirror imaging, obscuring with object, light and shadow, metaphoric seeing, cloud inspiration, and sketching the mundane or the unusual.

Friday April 13: Drawing From the Imagination - Dreaming on Paper (Part Two) THIS CLASS IS RE-SCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY MAY 18.

Students will draw on the work they have created in Part 1 and will proceed to create their own character. Students will also create a back story for their character.

Friday April 20: The Figure - Drawing From Life (Part One)

This class explores using various drawing techniques while working from a live model. Long and short poses will be explored in varied environments. The focus of the week will be on gesture, anatomy, volumetric structure, figure ground relationships, composition, and psychological and narrative uses of the figure in space. This class will study both historical and contemporary uses of the figure. Students will create gestural portraits of each other.

Friday April 27: The Figure - Drawing From Life (Part Two)

Students will explore and understand the effects of mark making, composition, value development and lighting when working from the figure. We will learn techniques in the art of still-life drawing. This will include line drawing, composition, detail, shading, pattern and texture.

Friday May 4: The Landscape

Students will explore concepts and approaches to drawing landscapes through illusion and representation. We will create studies of several different landscape artists to develop the skills to capture light, atmosphere and mood in landscape.

Friday May 11: Finding Your Style

Each student will present their portfolio and sketchbook to the class. The class will work together to choose works that will be presented at the group show. Student can present 3 to 5 pieces at the group show (this can include sketchbook pieces).

About the instructor:

Amber Johnson is a practicing fine artist, professor and instructional designer at Durham College, and a PhD candidate in the Canadian Studies program at Trent University. She earned her Advanced Fine Art diploma from Georgian College in 2002, focussing on drawing and acrylic painting as well as paper clay and textile sculpture. Amber has shown her artwork for many years in galleries in Toronto as well as in the Kawartha Lakes region, and is currently showing at Watson & Lou in Peterborough.

Online registration is provided through RegOnline, a third-party registration service. An additional charge will be applied by RegOnline in addition to the course fee.

Avoid online fees by registering in person at the College Office during business hours with cash or a cheque. Traill College Office is in Scott House and is open Monday to Friday, 9 am - 3:30 pm.