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#LifeDrawingLive: the anatomy class

A life drawing class you can take from home

Published 22 March 2019

From Leonardo da Vinci to George Stubbs, artists have long been inspired by the wonders of human and animal anatomy. In this special online class, we take a look at what lies underneath the skin and also draw from real-life models. Take the class and send us your drawings!

  • Welcome to our online life drawing class you can take for free, from anywhere! Life drawing is the artistic tradition of drawing the body from a live model. It can be an important way for artists to hone their skills – but it can have a much wider impact too. It can contribute to a mindful and relaxed state, reduce anxiety, improve problem-solving and encourage new perspectives. It’s also really fun. Last year, people from all around the world joined us for the first ever #LifeDrawingLive – and this year, we’re inviting you to join us for a second class, focused on anatomy.

    This class was broadcast live on 28 February 2019, and you can find out more about what’s in it below. Watch the full class below – go full screen for the best experience – and share your drawings with us on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #LifeDrawingLive. You can see a selection of other participants’ sketches below. Enjoy the class!

  • Join the class: #LifeDrawingLive

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    A tip from our tutor Sarah Simblet

    Make sure you’re comfortable and don’t grip your pencil too tightly – you’ll get a better range of movement with a lighter grip.

  • More information about this class

    What’s the class about?

    In the early days of the RA Schools, students started their training by drawing plaster casts of Classical and Renaissance sculptures, along with écorchés (casts of bodies from which the skin has been removed to reveal the musculature). Once they had demonstrated their skill in these areas, they were permitted to draw life models.

    Celebrating the the 250th anniversary of the RA Schools and inspired by our displays The Anatomy Professor and Learning to Draw, as well as our exhibition The Renaissance Nude, this special online class was broadcast from the Royal Academy’s historic Life Room. We take a close-up look at casts from our Collection that RA Schools students such as William Blake and JMW Turner drew from, getting some insights into what lies beneath the skin, before drawing from life models in the room.

    The class is hosted by our Artistic Director Tim Marlow and the artist, writer and broadcaster Dr Sarah Simblet, a specialist tutor of anatomy who regularly teaches in our courses and classes programme. We hear from experts on how artists such as Leonardo da Vinci honed their drawing skills through studying the human body – and, as an extra feature, we also take a look at the art of equine anatomy… with a special four-legged guest.

    What happens in the class

    The full session is 90 minutes long – but you can of course stop and start, or join in for as much or as little of it as you want to. Sarah Simblet will introduce the class and instruct you throughout: we start with some quick poses for you to draw to warm up, then try some longer poses so you have more time to fine-tune your drawings. Please note: due to social media community standards, this event did not feature full nudity.

    What you need

    Some paper and a pen or pencil is all you really need to take part – if all you’ve got is a napkin and a biro, that’s just fine – although you could also work with pastels, charcoal or any other materials you want to try. We recommend you watch on a desktop and go full-screen if you can, to get the best possible view of our models.

  • Your sketches from #LifeDrawingLive: the anatomy class

    • Drawing from an anatomical cast in the Life Room, RA Schools

      Courses and classes

      Courses and classes at the RA

      The RA’s extensive academic programme invites you to develop your skills and expand your knowledge of the practice of art, its history and its theory. Our courses and classes are available for all levels, whether you have a general enthusiasm, have long-standing interest or a professional background. We regularly run instructive life drawing classes with a range of specialist tutors.

  • In the RA shop

  • Terms of submitting drawings

    By posting your drawing on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #LifeDrawingLive, or emailing your drawing to digital@royalacademy.org.uk, you: (i) grant to the Royal Academy of Arts a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce and modify your drawing, for use in any media including on the Royal Academy website social media channels, including featuring it in the #LifeDrawingLive broadcast; (ii) warrant that the drawing is your own original work and you have the right to make it available for the use described; (iii) agree to waive any moral rights in your drawing, including to be acknowledged as author; (iv) allow the Royal Academy of Arts to use your name and / or social media handle on the Royal Academy website and social media channels.