The mindful practice of life drawing with Charcoal Art Club

Founders Kitty & Rosie share their story and why this medium is so good for the mind.

The mindful practice of life drawing with Charcoal Art Club

Life drawing, or any kind of drawing for that matter, is a wonderful way to switch off. But when the entire Papier team took part in a live Zoom session with Charcoal Art Club in 2020’s lockdown, it felt like we all discovered a new-found appreciation for the art form and its magical ability to relax the mind.

Charcoal Art Club is founded by food stylists and artists Kitty Coles and Rosie Ramsden. The pair share their love of life drawing using charcoal via online sessions, IRL workshops and supper clubs with ‘Charcoalers’ of all levels. Ahead of their online class for Papier followers (book here), we caught up with them to find out how it all started and borrow a few tips.

Tell us a bit more about how Charcoal Art Club started.
Kitty: Rosie started it in 2018, putting an idea out to friends as a ‘cosy book club style’ evening – friends getting together to draw with a scrumptious dinner incentive. It had such a popular response, so many keen drawers, it needed to be opened up to the public as a supper club.

Rosie: Kitty was keen from the beginning, the most wonderful energy and cook, and helped every week before becoming an official part of the team. We love running it together. A lot of love goes into each session, supper club and starter kit.

Why do you think life drawing is good for the mind?
Rosie: Drawing opens up a space in the brain, an intense concentration much like reading or yoga or dancing. It’s focused, freeing and creative. There isn't much room for letting in the little nags and worries. I find I can feel exhausted after drawing, but in a wholly refreshing and entirely positive way.

You do various different techniques and drawing styles in your classes. What are your favourites?
Rosie: We always begin our classes with rapid poses – no more than 30 seconds, in quick succession. These are often the favourite poses for our artists and models too, a chance to express without getting distracted by detail. We encourage continuous line drawing here, where you keep your pencil on the page, or blind contour where you don’t look at what you’re drawing. We start and end the session with these quick ones.

Kitty: This winter we have a series called A Quiet Night In– we have a still life by candlelight session on the 17th January, The Figure as a Landscape in February featuring illustrator Sam Boughton and Yoga and Drawing with Naomi Annand in March. We like to mix up our Nights In sessions and bring more involved workshops into the fold.

What are your tips for someone doing life drawing for the first time?
Kitty: Keep your mind as free as possible and if any frustration comes up, use it, work into your shade and line with a stronger hand. And don’t worry about what you draw, it’s the act of getting marks on paper that can be so rewarding.


Why would you recommend someone attend one of your classes?
Rosie: Whether you’re an experienced artist or trying it for the first time, it's a moment to engage with a different part of your brain. It’s not work, it’s not necessarily play either; it’s an experiment for any level and a chance to achieve something in the company of like-minded people.

As part of Papier Events, Charcoal Art Club will be hosting an online Mindful Life Drawing workshop on Tuesday 25th January 6:30-7:30pm. All you need is a quiet space, some blank paper and your choice of artistic medium (pencils, pens, pastels or paint). Book your spot here.

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