School Leavers: Past student experiences at The Royal Drawing School

March 14, 2022

Our new school leavers programme, The Drawing Gap will be an important, intensive journey of creative growth, nurturing confidence in young artists and supporting them on their path into higher arts education and creative careers. 

This programme might be new, but we have lots of previous experience helping school leavers, aged 18 - 23, progress along their creative route towards Higher Education, through our time running The Foundation Year course from 2012 - 2021. As the education landscape has changed, we are no longer running The Foundation Year, but we have devised this new, intensive short course to give students more choice, flexibility and freedom to learn and explore during their gap year. 

Here, we share some experiences from our previous school leaver aged students, during their time on The Foundation Year with us.


Ewan White

Ewan White in the studio

I chose to attend The Royal Drawing School before going to university primarily to give me a sense of what it would be like to study art full time, as I was still considering a BA in English Literature or Physics. I definitely made the right choice for me; it was one of the most educational and enjoyable years of my life up to that point. It solidified my desire to pursue art both as a degree and a profession and it expanded my conception of what art can be and do. 

The most important thing that I learnt at The Royal Drawing School was an appreciation of drawing as fundamental to all art forms, or at least those which I am particularly interested in. Before, I rarely drew from observation, besides a few short life drawing classes. Now drawing is an essential daily practice for me as a way of connecting to and making sense of the physical world by transforming it onto a two-dimensional plane. This study of drawing has helped me in almost every way; without it I could have little conception of form, space or geometrical structure. It can express feeling and distil life into a line.

Further study: BA Fine Art, The Slade School of Fine Art (UCL) and New York Studio School

Ewan White charcoal drawing



Okikioluwa Akinfe

Okikioluwa Akinfe

One of the most important things I learnt from The Royal Drawing School was to listen to the advice and ideas given by my peers because they usually spend more time with you and your work and have first-hand experience of your working processes in a shared studio space. I also learned that documenting the process of work can be very helpful in developing my practice. 

I have found drawing to be a good problem solving tool in my work; it helps to plan ideas and work through compositions for my paintings, which has made drawing an important part of practice for painting. I plan to finish my BA in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art and go on to become a practising artist and to hopefully complete a MA in the future.

Further Study: BA Fine Art, The Slade School of Fine Art (UCL)

Okikioluwa Akinfe painting



Laura Goodman

Laura Goodman in the studio

Reflecting back on my time at the Royal Drawing School, I think there were two major things I learnt. Firstly, I learned how work independently and manage my time; which is invaluable to my degree. Secondly, I gained confidence that with hard work my ideas were worth working on.

I found the focus on drawing really helped me organise my thinking and develop my ideas. I have carried this practice with me as I have worked through my Fine Art Photography degree. For me drawing is about the process behind an image, its not the final work but a intrinsic part of my practice, with printmaking. As such the final form is usually photo-etchings.

Further study: BA Fine Art Photography, Glasgow School of Art and Rhode Island School of Design, USA

laura goodman print


Chinda Smith 

Chinda Smith Blog

Prior to attending The Royal Drawing School, I had a misconstrued notion that I wouldn’t be able to find people like me. This thought was quickly put to rest when I discovered this very powerful connection between creatives. 

The classes throughout the course were rigorous, designed to develop your skill set, drawing from observation whilst exploring the use of one’s imagination. For instance, I can now confidently draw a figure directly from my mind, whereas before starting the course I relied heavily on source material. Comments from tutors were often insightful and revelatory, unlocking knowledge to further your practice, and understanding of the artistic world. Equally, that fact that it is the Royal 'Drawing' School did not inhibit the exploration of a wider range of mediums. Elements of drawing within sculpture, painting, printmaking, and photography were strongly emphasised throughout. 

Further study - BA Fine Art: Painting, Camberwell College of Arts, UAL

The Forgotten



Paul Majek-OduyoyePaul Majek-oduyoye Blog

The Royal Drawing School has taught me so much about my personal creative process. And how fear can sometimes interrupt this process. What I’ve learned is to be fearless and believe in myself when creating. And to understand there’s no such thing as mistakes in art, all experimentation or ‘failures’ are just part of the masterpiece. This understanding alone has created anticipation of thoughts and ideas, manifesting in life. This has been the platform to force me out of my comfort zone, learn what inspires me and identify my weaknesses and strengths.    

Further study - BA Fine Art, Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford

Mother and Child (Diptych)


Caitlin BoonCaitlin Booton

The Royal Drawing School gave me the freedom to explore different disciplines and helped to guide my thinking. I found a love of exploring different media and approaches, and this is still central to my work now. It equipped me for my degree course in so many ways and has enabled me to make the most of opportunities available to me at Falmouth. 

Drawing is integral to my practise. I use it at every stage of my creative process from roughing out ideas to producing final pieces. I’ve found the drawing skills I learnt have allowed me to easily expand my practice into areas such as printmaking and painting, which are really important to my work.

Further Study: BA Illustration, Falmouth University

Caitlin Booton etching



Our new school leavers course, The Drawing Gap is a 12-week, full-time intensive drawing course designed for a small cohort of students who want to develop foundational creative skills and their powers of visual reasoning.

Broaden your creative thinking and problem-solving skills through an immersive fine art course tailored to school leavers. Over one term, students will become part of a creative community and learn how drawing can be the starting point for all creative disciplines. Classes include tuition on painting, printmaking and sculpture. 

This structured, practice-led course has been created to build student’s confidence in visual literacy, and to stimulate links between the arts and other disciplines, preparing students for university and professional life. 

We would like to invite prospective students to join us for a day of workshops at the Royal Drawing School in Shoreditch on Tuesday 22 March 2022. You will be able to take part in drawing activities and meet with students and tutors for a Q&A. Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and are aimed at school leavers who are in their graduating year or have just graduated. Please email school.leavers@royaldrawingschool.org if you would like to join. 

If you can't join the taster day, we are also running an online School Leavers Open Evening on Tuesday 22nd March at 5.30pm. 

For further information about the course, visit our School Leavers Programme page. 

The Foundation Year course is now closed.