Anne Pirie

Anne Pirie is a charity development advisor and artist. She joined her first online course in May 2020 and has since signed up for nine more...

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Why did you decide to book a Royal Drawing School online course?

I booked my first RDS courses in May 2020, in the first COVID lockdown – Drawing a Story, and Drawing from Film. I had long been interested in the RDS courses – but disability and the fact that I live in Devon meant that I could never get to Shoreditch. So I was thrilled when the pandemic encouraged the RDS to develop online courses – one good thing to come out of the terrible situation we were all in.

What were you hoping to get from the course?

I have now been on 10 mostly 5-week courses with the RDS over the past 13 months. It has opened up my world –through just being able to attend courses, and meet tutors and students from all over the UK and the world. But it has also opened up my artistic practice through shifting how I think, opening up the sources and inspiration I use in my art, and helping me access my own imaginative world. At a time when all our worlds were closing in a bit, and for someone like me who has for a number of years had a rather physically restricted existence – this has been life changing!

I think I may be a little bit addicted to RDS online – over the past year I have taken at least one course every term, and I know my week feels a bit less exciting when I am in between courses!

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What was is like to be taught online, via Zoom and Padlet?

I have really enjoyed being taught online – four main reasons have been:

  • A really good community has been created in many of the courses – for example, Andrea Mclean has created an atmosphere in which all feel comfortable talking, and students have got to know each other and relationships have continued after the course.
  • Access to inspirational resources has been fantastic – some tutors have exposed us to a world of high-quality imagery, with really informed commentary on what we are seeing and how we can find out more – Nicola Durvasula and Andrea Mclean really stand out in this respect!
  • The platforms used have encouraged learning from other student’s work – students upload their work onto Padlet, where it stays for the full course. This way, we can spend more time with each other’s work, and see development over the life of the course, which has proven really interesting and instructive. The class as a whole reflects on each student’s work, through discussions on Zoom and comments on Padlet, which has helped me to see my work in different ways, and also to think constructively about other’s work.
  • The tutors have all been excellent, with good levels of constructive individual feedback in each session – Perienne Christian, Constanza Dessain and Thomas Newbolt in particular helped me to think differently about how I put my drawings together.

What are the benefits of working online for you?

Aside from allowing me access that I would not have had due to my mobility problems, I also think that working online (when done as well as RDS tutors have done it) has meant that course content could more easily call on my own life, experiences and environment – and that learning could be more readily integrated back into my everyday artistic practice.

Why do you think drawing is important?

Drawing is really important to me – it is central to my art practice, allowing me to explore, experiment and learn. And it is important for all the same reasons in my life – taking me places, stilling my thoughts, teaching me attention, courage and love.

What advice would you give to other students who are considering joining an online course?

I would really encourage anyone thinking of joining an online course to do so. I have found everyone at the RDS to be friendly, encouraging and open minded, informed and generous. This is what has made their courses a source of so much inspiration and growth for me.