Drawing AT DVSA

Learning to draw is the process of learning to see. We learn how to perceive the world around us through careful and extensive observation and then translate what our eyes see into marks on a page. The art of drawing reveals to us a clearer understanding of our perception – how our brain processes and translates different marks and objects in space. The more we look, the more we learn how to see and the more we see, the more convincing the resulting drawings. At Dundas Valley School of Art, we offer some of the most complete art studios in the Hamilton/Burlington region with a range of drawing classes taught by the area’s finest artists.


As a developing artist, drawing is the framework upon which all your work will be supported. Whether you intend to go further into portrait or architectural drawing, explore animation or graphic design or take up painting, ceramics or sculpture, basic drawing skills are essential. They will form the foundation upon which you will advance your ideas. Learning to draw also helps to spark creative thinking and your imagination, further develop one’s fine-motor skills and most importantly, offers an enjoyable and satisfying creative outlet.

Beginners’ Drawing classes at DVSA explore the 7 ways of seeing and how they relate to drawing: contour (line), gesture (movement and action), proportion (relationship in size), perspective (depth), positive-negative (subject vs. context), texture (surface) and value (light and dark).

Initial lessons might begin with a basic still-life set up consisting of cylinders, spheres and boxes. You’ll work on numerous quick ‘thumbnail’ sketches, trying out different formats (square, horizontal, vertical rectangles) and experimenting with multiple compositions. You’ll then choose one of your studies to further develop into a more complete drawing with careful observation of the behaviour of light and a deeper exploration of the seven ways of seeing. 

Also covered is how to develop an interior space using 1-point perspective. Work is done in pencil or charcoal to produce monochromatic (one colour) value studies. Full colour is introduced in more advanced classes. As the course progresses, you’ll bring your new learning to a range of drawing subjects such as more still-life along with portrait and figure (life) drawing.*

Significant group and individual instruction is provided throughout and a collective exchange of ideas and knowledge is encouraged, shaping a collaborative studio experience with people from a range of backgrounds. Our instructors, all of whom are also working artists, offer continual encouragement, instruction and creative guidance.

* Drawing the human form or life drawing remains a mainstay of art schools because it’s one of the best methods for developing your drawing abilities. Everything about drawing – the 7 ways of seeing and more – come together in the complex study that is the human body. Figure/life drawing sessions at DVSA offer multiple model poses, ranging from 1-2 minutes for quick gesture warm-up sketches to longer poses for more developed studies.


Many different avenues present themselves after a Beginners’ Drawing class. You might focus more specifically on still life, figure/life drawing, portrait or landscape drawing. As you move forward, you’ll fine tune your skills and tackle new concepts such as delineating planes on a form (detecting and noting a change of plane), developing a composition, two, three-point and atmospheric perspective, hatching and cross hatching techniques (used to create texture, value and the illusion of form and light) and further development of your artistic “eye” to better decode what you’re seeing in 3-D and render it in 2-D.

There’s also different media to explore such as pen and ink and the introduction of colour with pastels and coloured pencils. Some artists move on to try painting classes, bringing their drawing foundation to that medium.

A number of shorter drawing workshops are also provided throughout the year offering specialized instruction and refreshers in specific drawing concepts, subjects and mediums.


For those who may still feel intimidated, we offer our Drawing For The Petrified course as an option for Hamilton drawing classes. Shorter in duration, this class provides a broad overview of the basic drawing concepts covered in our full beginner classes. It is intended as a precursor to our Beginners’ Drawing classes and designed for absolute beginner artists who wish to explore if drawing is their medium, but don’t quite feel ready for a full-term drawing class.


Our drawing instructors like to tease our students with the reminder that “we do have blue boxes in the school.” The message here is learning to draw is a process. What happens in your brain is of equal importance to what happens on the paper. There will be missteps, uncertainty and challenges – but with practice and guidance you’ll move closer to observing “the truth” of what you are seeing and become increasingly skilled at drawing. It is a rewarding process and a crucial one for any artist’s development.

Featured Drawing Courses