Drawing is the discipline by which I constantly discover the world.”

-Frederick Franck


Beginning & Introductory Drawing

First in Beginning Drawing (100-level courses) and then Introductory Drawing (200-level courses), student artists sample a wide range of techniques, focusing primarily on drawing from observation. Topics include still life studies, architectural forms and landscapes, and concentrated study of the human figure, including skeletal and muscular systems.


Student work, above from left to right:

Renee Wei, still life, white and black charcoal on grey paper

Kelsie Blachly, self portrait, charcoal

Lisa Kohler, still life, conté crayon

K Hanberg, stippled still life, ink


Intermediate and Advanced Drawing

Please note that Intermediate and Advanced Drawing courses are now usually offered one term per year.

Intermediate and advanced drawing students continue to hone their skills with a wide range of media, including ink, graphite, charcoal and, occasionally, colored mediums like colored pencil, gouache and watercolors. In addition to direct observation, subject matter expands to include narrative studies, abstractions and non-objective drawing.


Student work, above from left to right:

Heather Ferguson, study from unusual vantage point, charcoal

Gerry Blakney, study of refractive surfaces, graphite

Sarah Fast, stages of abstraction project, conté crayon

Jennifer Gimzewski, expressive figuration study, colored media


Why life drawing?

“The nude does not simply represent the body, but relates it, by analogy, to all structures that have become part of our imaginative experience.”

-Kenneth Clark, author of The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form

Life drawing is an essential component of the art major (and art minor) at Western Oregon University. Any student lacking experience in drawing the human body is disadvantaged as an artist. Just as a physician must study cadavers to understand the working bodies of patients, artists must be thoroughly familiar with the proportions and anatomy of the nude model and skeleton to create vital, expressive figure paintings, prints, sculptures, and drawings.

The ability to draw the figure well is important not only to figurative artists but also to artists who work abstractly or non-objectively. Many of the best abstract artists of the 20th Century—Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Jim Dine—were avid promoters of figure drawing. Throughout history, the finest examples of architecture, pottery, abstract painting and sculpture hold commonalities with the proportions and expressive lines of the human body.


Student work, above from left to right:

Chris French, muscle overlay with live model, graphite

Anna Wichman, gesture drawing, charcoal

Robert Allen, skeleton study, white conté on black paper

Jennifer Gimzewski, foreshortening study, charcoal


Careers Related to Drawing

Studio Arts

Anyone who paints representational subjects benefits from a strong drawing foundation, whether they paint the landscape, architecture or portraits. Abstract artists, too, must be thoroughly familiar with the forms they intend to abstract and distort before they can successfully distill the essence of the form.

Sculptors rely heavily on preliminary sketches and drawn construction plans and elevations to execute their sculptures.

Printmakers are often excellent draftspersons. The graphic quality of the printed marks in etching and lithography are directly tied to drawing.

Visual Communications

Graphic designers and web developers benefit from strong drawing skills when communicating concept ideas and proposed layouts to clients during conferences. Compositional sketches are a critical part of the design brainstorming process.

Illustrators, game designers, and animators require a strong understanding of linear and atmospheric perspective, must be able to model forms with light and shade and to design dynamic compositions. All of these skills are taught in the drawing concentration area.

Arts Education

Whether teaching preschool or college level students, arts educators benefit greatly from having developed strong drawing skills.






Art Department Office Coordinator - Laura Killip

503-838-8340 | or e-mail: killipl@wou.edu  | Location: Campbell Hall 105