A little over a year ago, I took a workshop with English equestrian artist Ruth Buchanan that I cannot say enough nice things about. After a few weeks had passed and I had recovered my composure (it’s hard work learning new things and having an idol come to stay with you), I asked if Ruth might be interested in coming back to do a second workshop.

Ledove sketch by Ruth Buchanan

Now, honestly, I was thinking she might come back in a couple of years. But she told me that she would be coming back to the states next summer for a family wedding and that she wanted to do a workshop about drawing because so many people had asked her about it.

Sketches by Ruth Buchanan

After polling the participants of the last workshop, 60% of whom said they were in, Ruth and I worked up a plan. The first workshop had been in the Salem/Keiser area, which is a populated area, but not as populated at Portland. So I contacted the Oregon Society of Artists (Portland, Oregon) and they were excited about the possibility of having Ruth come.

“Cobalt Greys” by Ruth Buchanan

As I said, we thought a drawing workshop would be well received. And Ruth had just published an article in The Artist magazine entitled “10  Approaches to Drawing”. Additionally, Ruth had just done a series of workshops in the UK with this title, so we felt like this would work out great.

How to turn a sketch into a painting by Ruth Buchanan

We settled on a date (August 11-13, 2018), settled on a price ($295), created the flyers… and waited.

Sketch and sketch with color added by Ruth Buchanan

A few registrations came in, but the workshop wasn’t filling up the way we had hoped it would.

We promoted some more. And waited.

Finally, we got our heads together and talked about how to rebrand the workshop without changing the focus. The focus of the workshop had always been improving an artists drawing with the idea of taking those drawings on to become paintings. So, we thought, we needed to focus on that. Thus, we changed the workshop title to “Strong Drawings, Dramatic Paintings.”

Value painting in one color by Ruth Buchanan

That seemed to do the trick because registrations started to come in. But it’s been slower than I hoped.

Sketch to painting “Gathering” by Ruth Buchanan

Now we’re two weeks away and we’ve met our minimum, but we still have a few spots left. Two, to be precise.

I’d really like those spots to fill. Ruth is an amazing artist and her techniques are universal, horses just happen to be her subject.

Here is a description of her class, straight from Ruth. I’ve also attached her planned daily schedule. As I’ve said, I’d really like to get a couple more registrations.

Let me know if you are interested and feel free to share this post!

“In the Wings” by Ruth Buchanan

“Strong Drawings, Dramatic Paintings: 10 Approaches to Drawing” by Ruth Buchanan

Strong Drawings, Dramatic Paintings

A three-day course on drawing/sketching techniques, drawing approaches and drawing to support and strengthen painting taught by professional artist Ruth Buchanan. The workshop includes demonstrations and drawing exercises with supported free working sessions where artists may bring reference photos and painting supplies.

Working with ten approaches/techniques to drawing a subject, the workshop expands on Ruth’s article in ‘The Artist’ Magazine on drawing Horses (UK January 2018), which in turn was based on a Ruth’s drawing workshop. The aim is to strengthen your natural drawing style and confidence through considering other approaches to looking at and rendering various subjects. During the three days we will also consider drawing as a preparation towards making your paintings have more impact by looking at values, composition and focus.

Ruth Buchanan has worked as a professional artist for 17 years. Whilst best known for her equestrian paintings, Ruth paints a variety of subjects and has many years experience in Life Drawing. The workshop will include some equine and animal drawing alongside drawing other subjects. The skills and techniques are applicable to all drawing regardless of subject.

Previous to her current profession, Ruth worked as a Graphic Designer and Illustrator where she specialized in watercolors of architecture and still life for lifestyle publications. She also taught Print based Media (design) and Film Studies at A level and Diploma level in the intervening five years.

Materials required:

  • Sketchbook – A4 (8.5” x 11”) minimum please. Ideally A3 (11”x14”) (Note: This is different than a notebook or journal)
    • Paper for 10 exercises. You may want to bring some toned/tinted paper and something strong enough to work on in charcoal and/or ink.
  • A board and clips or tape if you wish to work at an easel (recommended)
  • A notebook or journal
  • Graphite Pencils
  • Eraser
  • Some sort of sharpening device
  • Charcoal
  • White or pale blue pastel or chalk
  • A couple of colored pencils
  • A biro (ballpoint pen) and/or dip pen and ink
  • Optional: Reference to work from in the supported free work time
  • An open mind and a willingness to have a go!

Whilst this is a drawing workshop but there will be some supported free work time so you are welcome to bring paints as well.

Brief timetable outline

Day 1 – 9.30 to 3.30

  • Three of the approaches – demonstration, ‘draw along’ and exercises.
  • Ruth’s sketchbooks – what sketchbooks mean to Ruth and a chance to have a flick through!
  • Shading with attention to light source. Identifying lights in a composition
  • Supported free working time with a discussion on working from life and working from photographs.

Day 2 – 9.30 to 3.30

  • Three more approaches – demonstration, ‘draw along’ and exercises
  • Tool holds and how this can influence your work
  • Working in a more immediate way
  • Drawing and painting from memory
  • Shading – mapping and simplifying tones for key impact
  • Composition – strengthening your drawing and your painting
  • Supported plein air drawing

Day 3 – 9.30 to 3.30

  • Working from a model: exercises on previous approaches and the other approaches not so far covered
  • Drawing in other media and with other tools
  • Mark making in drawing and painting
  • Review of all work
  • Feedback and critique
4 thoughts on “The Little Workshop that Could”
    1. The workshop will be held at the Oregon Society of Artists in Portland, Oregon. I think there is a link for the address and stuff, but let me know.

  1. This is a beautifully done report. Wish I could join in. I hope you get filled up. This is wonderful work. Do you do facebook? I would share it if you do. Robin Christy Humelbaugh

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