Jake Garfield

The Drawing Year 2013
BA Fine Art Painting, Brighton University

I was familiar with the Royal Drawing School because I had taken the occasional course in the life room and etching studio throughout my foundation course and degree. It was when an alumnus came to Brighton to talk about The Drawing Year that I knew I wanted to apply. The course seemed like the ideal way to follow on from my painting degree. There were times during my BA when I would be so caught up in my ideas that I would forget about making my work, so the practical nature of the course really appealed to me.

A great thing about The Drawing Year is the amount of actual teaching and the way it is built up from so many structured courses. This means that you get a lot of different opinions and feedback from a lot of different people. There is always focus on that particular day’s work (rather than that year’s), which was really healthy for me. 

You can tailor your timetable to your interests, so it is possible to stick with tutors or classes you like while taking a plunge one or two days a week with something completely unknown. The most challenging thing for me was time management. It was important for me to make the most of my personal studio space in the Tea Building and keep up my own practice as well as the courses and everything else. You have to be very organised.

Dying of Thirst

I really valued was the opportunity to work both in a group in drawing classes and independently in the Tea Building. Ideas from one feed the other and it is nice to be able to dictate your working tempo in the studio, knowing you will be pushed in different ways through the courses.

After the first term there was a moment when I realised I no longer cared about making ‘good looking’ drawings. My intentions shifted to communicating something about a moment, about the limits of my materials, and about the limits of myself in understanding the things around me. For the first time I felt comfortable making drawings that I didn’t have complete control and understanding of.

Through continual practice I learned that figurative drawing can be very conceptual, and that it is naive to call observational drawing ‘traditional’. Just by making a line thick, an artist can simultaneously suggest that something is near to the viewer, that it is heavy, that it is dark, that they themselves are angry. Equally, a circle is at once a head, a womb, the earth, an eye and a zero – whether I like it or not.

Lots of opportunities have come to me since finishing the year. As a young artist, opportunities to show at places like Christie’s definitely instil some belief that what you do is of worth. I won the Printmaking Prize at our end of year show, which gave me confidence in applying for the MA in Printmaking at the Royal College of Art, where I am now continuing my studies. Since leaving I have also trained as a tutor with the School’s Drawing Clubs for young artists. Teaching on The Drawing Clubs is the most rewarding thing I have taken from The Drawing Year. It has forced me to grow as an artist and person, and is something I hope to maintain for years to come.

I still keep in touch with the people on my year and collaborate with them regularly through making artwork, running workshops and putting on exhibitions together. Drawing is remains an integral part of my practice as an artist and printmaker. There are approaches to drawing that I had never tried before The Drawing Year, like visual storytelling (in Drawing the Graphic Novel) and working in museums, that are central to the work I’m making now.

The Colours Are Bright As Ever