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The Academy Journey – December 2018

The upcoming Academy Module – Early in the New Year:

Drawing & Perspective



But first an Update:  18 months ago the Pastel Academy Online opened its doors.     It was a big moment because it had been over 2 years in the planning and setting up the infrastructure, the Website and and all the technical problems that had to be dealt with and overcome.  It has not been easy – but it has been fun!

No matter how much planning of the actual tuition element, I was really working without a template, or another similar model of an online Academy to inspire or guide me.


The BIG question I asked myself:

 Could I do online what I had a great reputation for doing live?

What did I want the Academy to do? 


I wanted it to do what a live course could do but better. So what does a live course do well?    Well that all depends on who is teaching it.  Some of the best artists have no idea how to pass their knowledge on and some dont like to give away all their secrets!     A well designed live course should have been planned to take the student from the beginning to the end and result in improvement and increased understanding.   I put out a questionaire to a group of learners and the result was,  it was hit and miss as to how much was learnt from live workshops and courses.

The benefits of Live Courses:   Well the main benefit seemed to be in meeting and seeing the work live of an artists whose work interested them.  The Downside to live courses:   Well some are difficult to travel too and that is an additional cost.    Not getting what you want from the teacher is also a big downside.

Without that experience – the Academy would not be live and well now.   As to whether it has all worked well?  Check out these two new testimonials:   (more on pastelacademyonline.com)

”My progress is all due to Heather’s great teaching and the encouragement of everyone here at the Academy.  I had never used charcoal, graphite sticks or pen until I joined so the academy has been a real game changer for me.You’ll soon have a tonal values gallery filled to the brim with gorgeous images, even if you sometimes think they are beyond you to create right now. (I feel like that at the start of every picture I try lol!).  But I learnt that trusting Heather as she leads me out of my comfort zone means everything I need to learn falls into place.  I love how Heather guides in such an intuitive and personalised way and, I wholeheartedly believe the academy is the best online art resource available. We are lucky to have found her ‘

Kerri Anne

I am very new to The Pastel Academy. I joined on 12th August 2018.  Not knowing what to expect, I am astounded at the quality of the academy and Heather’s teaching. In a matter of a few weeks I have done two graphite stick and one charcoal piece of work. I used to be very slow. Finding the charcoal work slightly challenging, I was guided and supported by Heather and the wonderful members of the academy. I have been advised  on the best choice of paper and materials, on the best kind of easel to buy for my needs and how to enhance it. The quality of the demonstration videos is excellent and you can go back to them as you need too. It in not a case of you see it then it disappears. All of the work of the academy remains in place for you to refresh as you feel the need. The teaching is done in a very user friendly way. It is clear and easy to follow. Heather personally assesses your work, providing helpful and instructive feedback and you can see yourself improving, even after a very short period of time. Thank you so much Heather and everyone involved in the wonderful Pastel Academy.”


So the Academy succeeded!  I wanted it to do what a live course could do but better. I also wanted to give more people access to quality tuition.


I must admit there were those students who attended my live classes who looked at me strangely when I told them what my aim was. They told me straight out that I would never be able to teach online the way I do live.

I asked them also how many art books had they purchased over the years?   Loads!   How often do you refer to them?  Not too often was the reply.  Why?  Because you cant really learn from books they replied.   And you cant see the processes live.  You can on a course.  But you can’t re run a live course whenever you want to!   You can at the Academy.  PLUS – you get personal feedback from me and other group members.   Its a win win.


There is little doubt that experience over 30 years of teaching courses and workshops – including painting holidays – has given me the experience and working knowledge of how to teach my subject.  I didn’t think it would be possible to improve the learners experience by teaching online, but I was wrong.    The learning is more ‘in depth’ in the Pastel Academy;  and the feedback is deeper and more intense.

Drawing and Perspective starts early New Year


Some have asked my why the Drawing and Perspective Module did not come first int he Academy syllabus?

Well it was a decision I took when planning the curriculum.    The ability to draw is within everyone but it is the subject of mental creative blocks; there are many who believe that they cant draw and perspective even moreso.  So we are dealing with confidence issues.   I decided to start with a subject which most artists had trouble with but was not the cause of confidence issues.   Now the members will be able to approach formal drawing and perspective with a great deal more knowledge under their belts and with confidence.   (Below are simple expamples of eliptical perspective – used for accurate drawing of round objects)


One of the things I truly believe is this;  the ability to draw well or even just adequately, is important to any serious artist.   It is one of those skills which will be with you all of your life and improves with use.  In other words the more you do it the better you understand it and how valuable it is.   It is the one thing that frees your imagination because you are not confined to drawing badly or using a tracing method.   Tracing methods are fine in some circumstances but without the ability to draw you can make changes which you know you want to make but you are not sure if you can draw what changes you want to make.     So some artists stay with tracing not because they want to , but because they don’t have the drawing knowledge.

What I would say to all reading this,  you owe it to yourself to be the best artist you can be.  Many of the artists I deal with came into pastel via animal portraiture.    Animal portraiture is notoriously completed from pretty bad photography and often posthumous work so ‘available’ photos are your only resource.     Some of you might even realise now that with a bit of help you could be so much better, and you really want to make a good living out of your art.   The drawing and perspective module could be a game changer for you – but in all subjects not just animal portraiture.   (below are examples of Linear perspective used for accurate drawing of buildings)



Then there is the really difficult issue of perspective.   This again I see mainly in portraiture but of course in buildings too.   SO much work which is displaying good technique – which has perspective issues, all too often caused by the focal point issues with the photography.  Hey I didn’t realise this at first.  But I had to learn the hard way.

Needless to say, If you wish to be a teacher of art , you need to know how to draw.   Whichever you might be, the fact remains,  YOU are worth investing in.   Investing in your creative development as an artist, for whatever you reason, is to invest in ‘you’.    And you are worth it.   And that time spent should be precious to you.

The Academy membership fees will rise in February.   Join before then and you will have access at the current lower price.

This is the direct link to join:


Don’t forget the comments box at the bottom of the page – tell me what you think about your experience of live workshops and working online.

Check out the Sneak Peak video below:



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