A new term of Life Drawing


It’s at this time of year, as the new academic term is about to start, that I start to get anxious about student numbers and worry about whether of not the Life Drawing courses I teach, the ones I teach at Margate Adult Education Centre, will run or not.  If they don’t run I don’t get paid, and so I worry about money as too.

Margate Adult Education Centre is not well known locally.  It’s a shame because the Margate Adult Education Centre is such a lovely building, it has purpose built art rooms and its right in the centre of Margate.  It was built as an art college (an F.E. college) way back in 1929 (opened in 1931).  The room I teach Life Drawing in is the same room in which Life Drawing was taught from the 1930s until about 1970, when it became the ‘Hilderstone’ Adult Education Centre, and has continued to be used as a Life Room until now.  I’m the latest of a long succession of artists to teach Life Drawing in this space going back eighty-five years!

If rooms have ghosts then I’d like to imagine that this room’s ghosts are happiest whenever someone is in there drawing.  The room’s wooden, herringbone-pattern, floor is drawn with decades’ worth of scratches and scuffs from the dragged feet of easels, chairs and tables.  Scratches like this are a kind of drawing – they trace the presence of the others who were here before.

A dais, which models sometimes pose on, is the same dais pictured in a photograph of Portrait Drawing class taken in the room in 1931.   The teacher seen in the photograph advising a student is ‘Mr Willis’.  I’ve spoken to people who were students here in the early 1960s and all have fond memories of ‘Mr Willis’ (he was still teaching there until about 1964).  He would confiscate students’ rubbers (erasers for those of you who speak American English) if they used them too much in their drawings.  I wouldn’t go quite that far in my teaching practice but I like the idea.  The great Walter Sickert gave three talks on drawing in the building in 1934.  Sickert also insisted that students draw without rubbing out and to draw quickly, at least at the start of a drawing.  Mr Willis will have attended those lectures.

We have to change our minds when we draw and the mistakes are just the evidence of those changes – they are virtuous things really and they need to be in play in our drawings if we are to make an honest drawing.  When we begin a drawing of someone we don’t really know what we are in the presence of.  We think we do but we don’t.  We think we know what a person looks like but our first thoughts are usually just our habits of seeing and our drawing-tricks.  We have to be prepared to change our minds about what we think we are in the presence of if we have any hope of getting our drawings to resemble our thoughts and perceptions.

Anyway, I’m hoping they’ll be enough students for the courses to be allowed to run and I wait to find out.

If you’re reading this and you live within striking distance of Margate, and fancy coming to my Life Drawing classes, go onto the Kent Adult Education website (https://www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/brands/mnid_123/Mr-Roy-James-Eastland.aspx) or find my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Roy-Eastland-1495390357351370/) or twitter (https://twitter.com/royeastlanddraw).  I’ll be teaching courses here next term and in the future (including some all-day Saturday workshops).  I’ll also be teaching Life Drawing at the Sidney Cooper Drawing Studio in Canterbury (Canterbury Christ Church University). 


Life Drawing exercise

Hilderstone Adult Education Centre Margate Thanet Life DrawingMargate Adult Education Centre Kent Adult Education demonstration Life DrawingSidney Cooper Gallery Canterbury demonstration life drawing




These drawings weren’t made to be works of art; these are demonstration drawings done as part of the Life Drawing classes I teach at Margate Adult Education Centre and at The Sidney Cooper Gallery in Canterbury. These are drawings of people holding a pose for about 15-20 seconds and then moving to a second pose and then repeating the first, and so on, three times over. The students get a minute or 30 seconds for each pose.  Here are a few thoughts about this particular drawing exercise.

Everything changes. This exercise acknowledges that fact that we draw within a continual state of flux and change. The model resumes each of the poses three times but each time there will be subtle and not so subtle changes in the model’s position. the changes in positions are inevitable. Even if it was humanly possible for the model to re-occupy the exact-same position each time, you (the person drawing) will have changed as your time moves on; we are not quite the same person we were a moment ago and drawing can make us more aware of this change.

The drawer gets three goes at drawing each of the two poses. You might notice something different each time and you might want to draw something different each time. Let the drawing have its way: it is ahead of you, see what comes into the drawing. There isn’t time to rub out and start again. There isn’t time to finish a picture of a person. What you are drawing isn’t a picture of a person: what you are drawing is what you notice about someone’s momentary presence (an angle, nearness and distance, an edge, structure, a line etc). You must make your decisions within those short moments that you have to play with.

Your line is the trace of all the little changes of mind that took place as the charcoal in your hand made its nervous way across the surface of the paper. Your line has its own ‘life-story’ of beginning, changing and coming to an end (not a finish or completion but simply an end). As you make your mark you will notice that parts of your lines happen to agree with what you saw or thought and other parts of your line lose or never did make that that connection. Let it be and start a new line. Sometimes you’ll make a good line. This way of drawing is looks forward to the next moment and the next change of mind

Get in touch with the Sidney Cooper Gallery (Canterbury) or the Margate Adult Education Centre  if you’d like to come along to the Life Drawing sessions.


Here’s a link to the Kent Adult Education Life Drawing classes I teach: https://www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/brands/mnid_123/Mr-Roy-James-Eastland.aspx


Life Room

Life Room. Margate Adult Education CentreHawley Square Margate Adult Education Centre. Hildestone Centre Thanet

Here are some pictures of Margate Adult Education Centre.   The Margate Adult Education Centre is right in the town centre, on the corner of Hawley Square (a pretty Georgian-period Square with some lovely old trees on the green).

I teach Life Drawing here on Wednesday mornings and Thursday evenings. I also teach a few all-day sessions here and people come from as far away as London and Essex to come to them. I love it, and I love teaching in this building. It was built in 1929 and was opened, as ‘The Thanet School of Art’, in 1931. It became an Adult Education Centre (known then as ‘Hilderstone’) in the 1970s and has been used for Kent Adult Education classes ever since.

Life Drawing has been practiced in this very same ‘Life Room’ for more than 80 years!

Hardly anyone knows about the place.

I’ve posted some more pictures of the place on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roy-Eastland/1495390357351370?ref=hl

Anyone interested in coming along should contact the centre (03000414018) or go to the Thanet section of the Kent Adult Education website (www.kentadulteducation.co.uk) and type my name into the search box.

Portrait and Life Drawing in Thanet

Life Drawing and Portrait Drawing Margate Art sketchbook drawingLIFE DRAWING and PORTRAIT DRAWING CLASSES THANET ADULT EDUCATION

I don’t get to draw people nearly as often as I would like to.  Other people are the most interesting things in the world to draw.  If I could spend all of my time drawing people it would be a life well spent.  As it is, I get to draw at a few Life Drawing sessions and at odd moments during my teaching practice.  It is never enough.  These drawings are from sketchbooks and are 10-25 minute drawings.

I teach some Life Drawing and Portrait Drawing at the Margate Adult Education Centre, on Hawley Square, on Wednesdays, Thursdays and the occasional Saturday.  If you scroll down the home page you’ll find pictures of the venue.  If you’re interested you can book a place on these courses at any Kent Adult Education Centre or via the website (https://www.kentadulteducation.co.uk/brands/mnid_123/Mr-Roy-James-Eastland.aspx) or over the phone (00030414018).  Note: please don’t be put off by terms such as ‘beginners’, ‘improvers’ and so on – these are just the standard Kent Adult Education course titles.  The classes are always made up of people with a wide range of previous levels of experience and ambitions (ranging between ‘beginners’ to practicing artists with degrees and MAs).