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  • Education and Young People

    The Royal Drawing School

The Drawing Year - Anna Ilsley

The Prince's Drawing School

A Drawing Year student painting in the Scottish Highlands

During my final year at Brighton University I decided to get my drawing up to scratch (I am a painter for me, drawing has everything to do with good paintings).

I began by going for a coffee alone every day and drawing whatever and whoever was in the café.

I always had a sketchbook on me and by the end of the year I had sketchbooks full of inconsequential but dear moments, sitting round in the pub with friends, eating breakfast after a night out, commuters falling asleep on the train... I didn’t stop and in a way, didn’t dare stop it became a huge part of my everyday life.

Drawing always came with me I didn’t pencil it in when you begin to look, it is difficult to stop explaining what you have found. A couple of years later I took drawing a stage further and in an investigation of how my drawings and paintings relate to one another in a non-literal way, (I never paint directly from drawings), I travelled from London St Pancras overland to Bangladesh, drawing the changing land from the train window.

The aim was to reach the inhabited islands, or Chars, of the Brahmaputra river, and draw this desolate and flooded landscape.

I returned, applied to The Prince’s Drawing School and have now completed The Drawing Year and stayed on as a second year artist-in-residence here.

The Drawing School has challenged my work fundamentally and habitually whilst illuminating the role I see drawing having today. I have found strength and stability in the way that I use drawing to report on life now, this second. The year has enabled me to continue on this path, of drawing what is around me whether it be extraordinary or not, but with many new approaches. My ‘muscles’ are stronger and I am able to do so much more with what I am looking at.