Transforming Observation: Dreaming, Memory and Imagination

Through drawing, the ordinary can become extraordinary. The more we look, the more everything reveals itself to us as unexpected; even the laces on a pair of boots, in the madness of their loops. This course will present playful and surprising encounters to enliven the way we draw. For some artists, the vital spark in their drawing comes from the tenderness of attention in sustained observation, such as the way in which Morandi transformed tin jugs into rhapsodies of matter, air and light. Whereas for others it comes from a strength of internal vision that transports the close at hand to another imaginative realm, like in Goya’s The Witches, where observations of his own aging body were turned into scenes of comic terror. Mythical paintings have often been put together in the prosaic surroundings of artists’ workshops. We can often see the faces of everyday people brought in to stand for characters like Mary Magdalene, and the settings tend to mirror the landscapes surrounding the artists who painted them. This course encourages a playful approach to working in the life room and will offer strategies for developing meaningful images from subjects in our everyday lives. Students will combine observation of the model with props, projections, backdrops, sound and touch to create something with personal meaning. This could mean dissolving the walls of the life room altogether and placing the model in some remembered or imagined setting, or it could simply be the search for something expressive in the depiction of the figure. We will encourage one another to take creative risks and open new approaches to our drawing. Open to all levels.


Full-time BA students studying for a degree in Fine Art receive up to a 75% discount. Those studying on design or applied arts degrees may also be eligible on a case-by-case basis. Student ID and proof of enrollment must be submitted.

Full-time practising fine artists under 40 years of age in need of financial help may apply for a 75% discount on a maximum of two courses; applicants must submit a portfolio of ten drawings and fill in an application form which can be downloaded from the website. Please find the submissions dates here. Please contact the office in advance of submitting your application to reserve a place on your chosen course and check the portfolio submission dates. 

Primary and secondary school teachers who teach art receive a 50% discount; to apply participants must submit proof in the form of a letter from their head teacher or the head of the art department.

Individuals on job seekers allowance receive a 50% discount; to apply participants must submit proof that they are currently on the job seekers register.

Postgraduate alumni of the Royal Drawing School receive a 50% discount. 

Individuals who receive disability support are eligible for a 50% discount; to apply participants must submit proof that they are currently receiving this allowance.

Tower Hamlet and Hackney residents are eligible for a 25% discount; to apply participants must show proof of living in these boroughs. 

Individuals over the age of 60 may apply for a 10% discount.

All of our course rates are subsidised and we also offer a comprehensive concessions scheme. View all course fees and concessions.