Drawing from Home: Night Drawing - Letting Go

March 25, 2020

Taken from the recent publication by the Royal Drawing School, Ways of Drawing, Night Drawing - Letting Go is an exercise designed by faculty member Mark Cazalet. All you need is an outdoor space or a view to the outdoors and drawing materials.


Night Drawing - Letting Go, Mark Cazalet

Where: outdoors (your garden, balcony, view from a window), then, later, indoors ⁠
With: black or dark-coloured paper and gouaches, pastels or coloured pencils

Prepare some paper with a dark ground – a diluted wash of dark-coloured ink or watered down acrylic paint – or use black or dark paper. Select a range of colours you’d like to work with and lay them out so you don’t have to think about your palette later. Leave this to one side.

Go into a quiet garden or look out from your window at dusk. Don’t draw, just sit and stare at the rapidly changing colours, space and shifting tones. Above all, listen as night takes over from day. Allow at least twenty minutes of meditative acclimatisation, firmly putting away any distracting thoughts or plans as to what you will draw.

Laura Footes Bedford Square .jpg

Then, go back to your studio or wherever you like to work. Draw your experience of your complete encounter from the garden onto the paper. Think about perceptions of space and sound rather than form or how things really looked. Make considered marks to build up your surface. Work with economy rather than detail. This approach can allow you to be less self-conscious in your drawing and less focused on the final outcome.

As the poet Rumi said, ‘Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking.'

Tag us in your drawings on instagram @royaldrawingschool or Twitter @RoyalDrawing and use the hashtag #drawingfromhome so we can share your artworks!

Mark Cazalet attended Chelsea and Falmouth College of Art before being awarded two postgraduate scholarships with The French Government at L'Ecole des-beaux-Arts in Paris, and subsequently at MS University Baroda, West India. He works with fabricators in materials as varied as mosaic, mural, stained glass, etched/engraved glass, textiles, and lino woodcut limited edition books. Each year he also undertakes a small number of portraits. Cazalet's studio practice is based around drawing, painting and printmaking, usually concerned with landscape themes, informed by particular qualities of light, colour and presence. 

Drawings from top: Charlotte Ager, Laura Footes