Lilias Buchanan

The Drawing Year 2012
BA Graphic Design Illustration, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design

I applied to The Drawing Year because I wanted to learn how to make my drawings more characterful. I was impressed by the roster of tutors on the programme and was very keen to be taught by them. 

The methods of teaching at the Royal Drawing School were very different to those on my BA, and were much more about learning practical skills, whether it be how to draw a figure with a few lines or how to make a mezzotint plate and print it. The way that the tutors taught me to loosen my line has changed my views on the importance of drawing forever. I would never have thought I had it in me to draw the way I do now. Thanks to The Drawing Year I am a much stronger draftsman. 

Drawing the human form in the life room was an incredibly valuable part of my learning. I can now see the influences that have inspired me throughout my life, Charles Avery, Arthur Rackham, Aubrey Beardsley and Egon Schiele, coming out in my drawings, but in my own voice. I began to draw my own characters opposed to exact copies of the everyday. 

I remember having a tutorial with Ann Dowker at the beginning of the second term. She looked frustrated when I told her I wanted to draw like Durer. She exclaimed, ‘But you are not Durer, you are yourself! You have such an energetic and gestural personality, bring that out in your work!’ I listened and began to loosen my drawings, making light, quick gestures, contouring the human form on paper. My drawn characters became lighter, as if animations on a page, seeming to move in front of me. 

Keira and Paper

Being able to draw people quickly makes any place interesting and it has meant that I can now always be working and planning wherever I am. Sitting waiting in a station or airport has now become a bit of a luxury. The hours skip by as a I study the people around me. The old man, drinking Ye Olde English cider on the train, the family fighting over boarding passes before they fly. Being able to draw from life has opened my eyes to the bizarre and strange moments around me. 

Drawing is the core to everything I do now. My portraits have become much stranger, which has made me so much more excited about showing them in public. This year my portrait of the multi-talented Richard Kid Strange was hung at The House of St Barnabas in Soho with the likes of Tracey Emin, Yinka Shonibare and The Chapman Brothers. Through the Royal Drawing School I was asked to draw at The Green Carpet Challenge which was organised by Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Anna Wintour. Fashion Illustration is now a path that I am very keen to walk down and explore. 


I still keep in contact with many friends that I met on The Drawing Year. The sense of community at the School is very strong and does not stop once you finish the year. This is something that I find very important, as being part of a creative team makes me stronger. 

I draw every day. Just like playing an instrument you must keep practising or you lose your skill. A sketchbook on the tube is a good way to keep the practice up!

Lois - Close Up