ART INSTRUCTION: Drawing Course Information

The Drawing Fellowship


Focus on the Human Figure

(The “Ryder Way”)

[MIDWAY DOWN: “Notes of our Philosophy of Drawing”]

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Adjustments made for student age and ability.  See notes on “Drawing Course Syllabus”,


Comprehensive Course of Drawing integrating the Foundations & Fundamentals: Approaches & Techniques,  Human Anatomy, Principles of Composition, and the History of Drawing.


Again, see “Drawing Course Syllabus”“Notes” at top of page describes how to approach the Course, what to expect.


The Drawing Fellowship is an ongoing course of instruction; best described as a cycle of lessons. (Again, see “Notes” on the Course Syllabus page.)

Best to begin at the beginning, but can be entered at any point.  Course taught individually or in small classes. The course is largely self-paced. Individual segments can be repeated as needed.


One weekly 2 hour session, includes both instruction and directed practice.  Also available, weekly “Open Studio” session: the Drawing Jam Session (included in the monthly fee).


$120 per month. Payable on first session of the month.  [Note: at two weekly hours – avg. eight monthly hours – that comes to $15 per hour.] Student Discount: $80 per month.


Quality drawing pencils, paper, board, erasers, etc.  See below, next section. Specific Materials List provided at initial interview.  No texts required.  Written materials will be distributed during the sessions.

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This is a course on drawing the Human Figure. We take a classical approach. Understanding (and drawing) the human body is the foundation of all the visual arts.

Live Model Sessions (draped and un-draped) are introduced after the student has gained a skilled knowledge of Drawing Techniques, Human Anatomy, & the Principles of Compositions (all informed by a study of the History of Drawing).

Live Drawing Sessions using fully un-draped models are restricted to students age 18 and over; and students 16-18 with signed permission of parent or legal guardian.

Models come from outside the class and have a signed “Model Release” form on file.

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DRAWING PAPER (PAD):  18×24 in, 80 lb wt., medium texture, white.

No toned paper.  We do not use sketching or newsprint paper; they set the wrong mood (grip) for the pencil.  Also, a drawing sketchbook is encouraged to record progress from day one. Why toss out honest effort!

PENCILS: Graphite, grades HB, 2B, 3B, 4B.  At least three pencils of each.

No color pencils or pastel chalk. Initially, no charcoal.  Surprised?  Don’t be. All to be explained at the first session.  The concepts of tone and value must be mastered first before color is introduced.

ERASERS:  Kneaded and “soap”. 

At least 3 of each so a clean eraser is always at hand.  The eraser is a drawing tool, something more than a corrector, a warden of errors.

DRAWING BOARD: 20×26 in. (min), with clip.


Pencils need to be kept at a sharp point.  Any investment is worth the cost.  Electric is the best.  If you’re good with the knife, O.K.  The point being – excuse the pun – the chore of sharpening should not break the concentration and rhythm of drawing.


To be discussed during the first session.


Opportunity to use a wider range of materials and approaches.  See below.


Students encouraged to pack & carry a sketchbook – all the time, everywhere – to record whatever pricks the eye.  Done to hone skills, and for sheer pleasure of it. Since these are mostly “quickies” keep it simple.  Use graphite. Avoid charcoal, pastel or color pencil. Graphite is best for quick notation and to pick up where one left off.  Notebook should lay flat, use spiral-bound.  Paper: white, medium texture.  Don’t forget a sharpener.  As for pencils, a couple of 2Bs, 4Bs, and an HB grades will do.

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Practice of prior instructional session. Relaxed regarding materials and approaches.

The weekly Instructional Sessions are designed to be limited in materials used and methods.  In the Jammin’ Sessions students may (without pushing the course envelope to far) experiment with pastels, washes, colored pencils, toned paper – all the while focused on the overarching, under-girding “philosophy” that structures and guides our study of drawing.

There’s reason why the Instructional Sessions restricts the student to graphite pencil and white toned paper.  The constraint sharpens mind and vision.  This way the student befriends discipline.

Students, still, are eager to introduce new materials and methods, to experiment.  Good for them, good for The Drawing Fellowship.  Doing so, they, too, teach.

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Describing the relationship between Mentor & Students we don’t use overwrought words such as “class”, “family” or “community”.  Certainly not the later!

We’ll settle for The Drawing Fellowship.  More than any other it focuses on the mutual exchange of interest and knowledge, while giving place to individual labor and accomplishment.

The word “family” should never be used outside its proper, natural ends.  “Community” has been kidnapped and hijacked so often, for far too long, by all sorts of nasty folks, to be of much use.  Fellowship will do.  Unlike “families”, and the “collectives” of captured “communities”, Fellowship is truer to the nature of laboring man: a gathering together for the work at hand.

The word Fellowship has a righteous, realistic ring of affection about it. Something is gained, beyond any particular lesson, when the learning is had within the fellowship of others:  the give and take, the shared observations, the looking-about from different points of standing.

In addition, the student brings something unique (unrepeatable) to the instruction – his own self.  Within the Fellowship he both receives and, in time, hands-off what is learned.

So, when the course is completed – with good faith and a fond farewell – The Drawing Fellowship takes its leave with an exhibition of its works.

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The “Ryder Way” does not ignore the study of Anatomy but folds it into the (learned) habit of envisioning bodily form:  outside the drawing subject, inside the drawn subject, the values of light and shadow falling upon it, the orderly principles of its curvature nature . . . and so on.

Mastering the Anatomy of the human body spills over into how one learns to draw & paint – even beyond the human figure.

Knowledge of our bodily parts, and their relationships, are folded into our vision of the human form – and the wider world. It seeps and settles into our way of looking upon the world, as we go about mastering the “Ryder Way”.

Knowing the parts and relations of eyes and limbs – and such – keeps our pencil and brush-stroking attuned (and accountable) to the lawful, stubborn reality of bodily form.  This discipline keeps us under the law binding subject, artist, and viewer.

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In our introductory drawing course we focus on those parts and relations students tend to fret about.

Our study of Human Anatomy takes in both the skeletal and muscular systems which under-gird the landscape and landmarks of the visual human form.

The visible body, what we see and touch, is our ground, our meeting place with others – including God; but what is seen is anchored to the hard foundational forms (law) of bone and muscle.

Not to see the underneath is not to see the top!

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With the “Ryder Way” the focus is on the surfaces of bodily form.

Why not? It makes sense. This is what our eyes land upon, upon which we live out our bodily lives. Here is the ground on which the trinity of artist, subject matter, and viewer is made manifest.

Concentrated attention on bodily surfaces (with all its multiple curvatures and relations) discriminates for muscles and flesh over bones. Not that bones are to be ignored; we, all, would collapse flat without them!

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Composition is the neglected or truncated subject of most art courses. Not here!

When a student has a pesky “how to draw” question, or is frustrated because something doesn’t quite “look right”, it is often a Composition problem.  There is a basic set of Composition problems and solutions which the student must integrate into his vision & practice. We will tackle and befriend them.

The persistence of Composition questions shows that Art – if it is to satisfy both the artist and the viewer – must obey a Natural Law of Art, of sorts. However enfleshed in historical periods or individual vision, there are well-tested principles that must be given a nod.

This stubborn fact of Composition nips even at the heels of our mortality.  We, as artist and viewer, know that a fundamental truth is being exposed when a work of art is ordered properly.  We seek order; are both intrigued and answerable to it. This is so because we wish to be at ease with the world, to fit in.

Our lack of ease when a work of art disregards the Principles of Composition reveals how the dismissal of the Natural Law from Art becomes problematic. We intuitively seek to have that discomfort relieved, disordered composition realigned and refitted.

Bottom line, it is Eden’s first (original) composure and design which is the gnome (DNA) of honest pictorial vision.

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Solutions to problems in Composition are (near to) acts of redemption, a visual tale in the story of salvation.

To participate in such saving redemption Art must follow the Natural Law that Composition, itself, follows.  We, in our drawing course, do just that – follow the law. 

We draw (as we would paint) knowing that the liberty of the imagination is, first of all, an ordered one.

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Our Betters knew better: how to draw, how to paint.  Not that they completely mastered it, or we wouldn’t be tasking our own efforts to beat them at the game – if we can! Still, they’re worth taking a look.

That’s a bit weak.  It’s more than just having a peek at the past on a whim.  We look-about, with hard-nosed respect, at what was handed down, placed in our hands. Such a gaze fits the palm of our eye.

A twinge of comfort nestles there. Past Painters and Drawers kneaded their vision (on paper and canvas) into line, form and value: raising one tasty dough, a feast for eyes.

As one feasts one is nourished from what one digests.  How our betters took to line, form and value, suckles our own looking-about.  For the artist, the yeast of what was placed in our hands (however spiced and measured) hauls the stewardship of art into our own work. We, mentors or students, yield to this manhandling by Past Masters.

Doing so – with time and diligence – we put on paper & canvas what our Better Masters did – in their time and through their own labor – unrepeatable works worth looking at.

How this is done (and was done) is the study of the History of Drawing.

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There is humility all around.  Our Past Masters expect us to make them better!

Our Betters expect us to invite them in. Will do so in our Drawing Course, put them to work.  Not only to demonstrate the “Ryder Way”, but to reveal, to make manifest, both the lawfulness and the joy of the Art.

As Past Masters settle down in our course, they will be to us guides.

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[Scroll towards Bottom Of Page]

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Why Begin with Drawing?

Why the Human Figure?

Why the “Ryder Way”?

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Is drawing to painting what scales are to music? Well, yes and more. The art of drawing has its own glory. More to the point, drawing is not like practicing scales on the piano.  (Suppose the current phrase is “skills set building”.)  Instead, one learns to draw for its own sake in addition as preparatory sketching for picture-painting.

Better put, painting may just be a brisk-up way of drawing!

In time, even in The Drawing Fellowship, the graphite pencil is exchanged for the oiled-up Hog-Bristle Brush. Still, the notion that drawing is something to be endured – on the way to painting or sculpture – is out there cheating both the nature of the art and the artist.

Drawing cannot, like scales, be reduced to a series of exercises. Such a notion touches upon a fundamental truth: that drawing is foundational to all the visual arts.

By drawing well the artist comes to term with the foundational bits and pieces of the visual arts: the properties of light and form, value and tone as the parent of color (even when “pure” color is not used), the energetic character of line and stroking (all kinds and uses) – and so much more. This is why the subtitle to The Drawing Fellowship reads Foundations & Fundamentals.

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Why?  Because Mankind, Male & Female, is the Crown of Creation.  Throned higher than the angels.

It’s this cosmic, moral gnomic DNA of Man that so troubled Satan when he warred against Heaven – God’s refusal to offer him, and the angelic hosts, the glories of incarnate flesh.

Satan’s envy of Mankind’s bodily life is the background to Genesis 6 when the fallen “sons of God” lusted after the “daughters of men”.  Being the Archangel of Light – covering the very throne of God – was not enough for Lucifer, Heaven’s once Angelic Prince.

[We have read our Book of Enoch, the one of Jubilees!]

If God refuses to extend bodily flesh to angelic beings, so thought the Luciferian, then Satan would raid God’s affection for the bodily life of the Man & Woman by any sneaky snaky, means disposable to his winged scales. Do so, even if it meant warring against Heaven, itself, to claim as booty what Adam and his Eve received as gift.

[What has this to do with The Drawing Fellowship? Everything!]

Mankind’s bodily existence is central, pivotal to God’s way of walking on Earth and trekking through History. God taking to the Garden Path is a greater cosmic dare of sheer existence than the universe with all its atomic interior and galactic vastness.

God’s universal love devolving into his particular affection for fleshly Adam & Eve is the pulsating heart of existence. Apart from that, there is no rhyme or reason for God to act at all; there is no purpose to Cosmos or the Angelic Host. Without the privileged existence of Bodily Life there is no point to dawn and dusk (to a morning’s waking or a night’s rest); without Bodily Life (and God’s delight in it) there is no civilized life, no history, and no manifested love of God.

This is why no human deed – even the act of drawing – can be done outside or in disregard of Bodily Life. Not even knowledge or worship of God; why pencil and brush is bound to the Human Form before all else.

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The work of hand or mating discovers it origin here. Their point & meaning mirrors God’s act, when Mankind, stirred up by God’s finger from Garden dust, was crowned as Creation’s pinnacle, as Creation’s purpose and ground. Coming at the notion backwards, this is how we Men & Women – we, artists, all – image God.

Art is the labor of Man (of men and women) putting hand to paper, canvass and stone.  Art is the human act which images God’s done deed of Creation.  Art is not the servant, the orphaned child of self-appointed forces, of nature and history emptied of anchored meaning, fruitlessly begetting sterile theories and Luciferian promises of whim &whimsy.

All of Creation is at our disposal; all Creation must yield to our (artistic) looking and probing: as Mankind, himself, must come to know and honor (to name) the lawful nature of what he picks up to use.

Art is manhandling done gloriously.

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Our Drawing Course (The Drawing Fellowship)) takes the Human Figure as the focus and measure of instruction: down to the foundational fundamentals of form, value and line, and up to the fully visualized Form.

It is said that to learn to draw (paint or sculpt) anything well (landscape, abstractions, even fields of abstract color) one must first master the Human Form; that this is what guides us. Such a rule may not be a fast one, but there is wise truth in such law-giving.

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Why?  Because, to this Artist/Mentor, Anthony Ryder connects dots long disembodied and isolated.  As a basis and motive for instruction nothing more need be said!

In brief, the “Ryder Way” is the classical atelier method with its redundancies trimmed.  For atelier, think working master studios in the Louvre or starving artist garret rooms in Paris’ Montmarte!

No need for that; we’re not Romanticists here.  We’re serious artists going about our duty to draw & paint (for some, a calling).

In practice, though, what’s the “Ryder Way”? How would a graphite pencil picture-it-out? At this point, a look at the companion page, “Drawing Course Syllabus”, would answer that.

Yet, practically, how does it work? For an instance, take perspective.

According to the “Ryder Way” this prickly drawing skill (the techniques of it) cannot be properly learned by reserving a session or two (or a whole course) to the “problems” of perspective: teaching, focusing directly on the subject.

The challenges of perspective (standard fare in any art course) are best learned by folding them into the “Ryder Way’s” holistic method with its focus on modeling the human form.

Learning to model the bodies of man and women on paper (from various points of view & mood) builds the skills to handle the perspective problems of any object of study:  from landscape, still life, to the breakdown of form (the object) into fields and planes.

With the “Ryder Way”, mastering the human figure is key to unlocking the “how to” questions of perspective that tend to bedevil students.  Securing that unlocks the “how to” of all the techniques (all the methods and ways) of drawing and painting.  The mastery of Bodily Form is the link threading all the disembodied questions and problems bedeviling the issue of technique.

Worth the dedication – this getting Bodily Form under one’s artistic belt; in time, as he threads and links the point-of-it-all, the student, himself, becomes the master.

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Primary Texts Referenced


[No Text Purchasing Required]

For general instruction in drawing the human figure these contemporary Master Teachers are referenced: Anthony Ryder, Juliette Aristides & Nathan Goldstein. They lay a masterful foundations for The Drawing Fellowship. They guide towards our goals.

Other artists lassoed:  William Berry, Daniel Mendelowitz, Joseph Sheppard , William Maughan , Gottfied Bammes, Hale & Collins 

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AMAZON: The Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing by Anthony Ryder

AMAZON: Classical Drawing Atelier by Juliette Aristides

AMAZON: Classical Drawing Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice by Juliettte Aristides

AMAZON: Figure Drawing:  Structure, Anatomy and Expressive Design of the Human Form by Nathan Goldstein

AMAZON:  The Art of Responsive Drawing by Nathan Goldstein

AMAZON: Master Class in Figure Drawing by Robert Beverly Hale

AMAZON:  Drawing Lessons from the Masters by Robert Beverly Hale

AMAZON:  Complete Guide to Life Drawing by Gottfried Barmmes

AMAZON:  Drawing the Living Figure by Joseph Sheppard

AMAZON: Drawing the Human Form by William Berry


AMAZON: Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil by J. D. Hillberry

AMAZON: Atlas of Foreshortening: the Human Figure in Deep Perspective by John Cody

AMAZON:  Successful Drawing by Andrew Loomis

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These features tend to give the student unique (at times, frustrating) challenges.

In addition to the Master Teachers, above,  these are referenced:

AMAZON: The Artist’s Complete Guide to Drawing the Head by William Maughan

AMAZON:  Secrets to Drawing Heads by Alan Kraayvanger

 AMAZON:  Drawing the Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis

AMAZON: The Artist’s Complete Guide to Facial Expression by Gary Faigin

AMAZON:  Drawing Hands and Feet: Proportions, Gestures and Actions by Giovanni Civardi

AMAZON:  Anatomy: a Complete Guide for Artists by Joseph Sheppard

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(as opposed to the nude, which remains the foundation of figure drawing)

AMAZON: Drawing People: How to Portray the Clothed Figure by Barbara Bradley

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For Principles of Anatomy these Master Teachers are referenced: Anthony Apesos, Stephen Peck, William Berry, Eliot Goldfinger, Haqle & Coyle, and Joseph Sheppard


AMAZON: Anatomy for Artists: a New Approach by Anthony Apesos

AMAZON:  Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist by Stephen Peck

AMAZON:  Anatomy: a Complete Guide for Artists by Joseph Sheppard

AMAZON: Figure Drawing:  Structure, Anatomy and Expressive Design of the Human Form by Nathan Goldstein

AMAZON: Drawing the Human Form by William Berry

AMAZON: Human Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form by Eliot Goldfinger

AMAZON:  Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters by Hale, Coyle & Hale

AMAZON:  Human Anatomy: from the Renaissance to the Digital Age by Benjamin Rifkin

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For Principles of Composition these Master Teachers are referenced: David Friend, again Nathan Goldstein , Arthur Wesley Dow,  Ian Roberts, Henry Rankin Poore , and Andrew Loomis.

AMAZON: Composition by David Friend

AMAZON:  Design and Composition by Nathan Goldstein

AMAZON: Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color by Arthur Wesley Dow

AMAZON: Mastering Composition by Ian Roberts

AMAZON: Pictorial Composition by Henry Rankin Poore

AMAZON:  Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis

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