Life Drawing at the Garden Museum

Its been 12 years since I last picked up a pencil heavier than an HB, let alone be in any kind of art class. But on Wednesday night, that’s exactly where I found myself- at a London Drawing session in the beautiful grounds of the Garden Museum overlooking the Houses of Parliament, for a life drawing class.



The Garden Museum is a bit of a walk from Vauxhall station, just follow the river along Albert Embankment. The class started at 7pm but by the time we legged it there, on the dot, all the good spots had already been taken. Easels and boards were provided and paper and charcoal were available for 20p each. The musuem was a STUNNING venue for a class and I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t even know it existed until I signed up for it! My friend Luan and I would have walked past it in the dark if the sign for the museum wasn’t on a glaring red banner. The grounds weren’t lit up at all and there was a bit of a “what have we let ourselves in for” moment walking through the gates and swallowed into the dark Tim Burton-esque gardens.  Once inside, however, it was a vast, warm and open space with the easels all placed in a circle around a bench where the life model would later pose.





The whole session was two hours long and split into a series of quick 5-15 minute sketches. I felt so rusty standing in front of an easel, I just didnt know where to start. And let’s talk about the elephant in the room. There’s a naked guy standing in front of me. Naked as the day he was born and I didn’t even find out his name! The adolescent voice in my head was giggling away, but in reality you completely forget that you’re staring intently at a naked stranger because for the life of you, you just can’t get the angle right on their head/shoulders/knees and toes! The class was for all capabilities and there was a mixed bunch of people attending- art students, a retired couple, and others like me that had run straight from the office. I didn’t feel out of place at all and the tutor gave me some really handy tips on how to quickly sketch out the shape of the human form by basically making a stick figure and fleshing it out. So…embarrassingly, here are a few of my efforts!


Screen shot 2013-10-18 at 00.04.32

I know. I know. He looks like a she. That is wiping it’s bottom. I told you I was rusty! The top two were the results of the quick 5 minute sketch and the bottom one is from the last 20 minutes where we started to sketch in the details of the background. There was a break in the middle to buy a glass of wine and walk around the Museum or see everyone else’s drawings, and whilst I am definitely no Picasso baby, I felt happy that I was able to hold my own! Phew. I also can’t wait to go back and next time Robin wants to come along too (unlike me, he can actually draw properly!)



We had a quick look around at the end of the evening, taking in the little oddities of the Museum like this little door (for goblins?), the sunflower arrangements as a nod to Van Gogh and the dozens of illustrations on the walls- you can just make out the little dancing stick figures by the mini door!

The next life drawing session at the Garden Museum is on the 20th November, I can’t recommend it enough! It’s so much fun! You can get your tickets here on the website: Life Drawing Classes

Maybe I’ll see you there?

Author: Angela Shek

just a clueless mama in East London

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