Workshops - UK

Held in my studio in Sessay near Thirsk

Mike Sibley
A professional artist for over 40 years, and author of the drawing bible "Drawing from Line to Life", Mike now passes on his knowledge through international workshops and online courses.
'Done Balin' graphite pencil drawing by Mike Sibley

Learn the secrets of
successful realistic drawing

In each workshop, whatever its subject, I'll show you how you can break down any drawing into easily manageable parts, and apply simple step-by-step techniques to draw them believably.

A weekend of uninterrupted drawing! Whether we're covering the basic techniques, exploring animal hair and bodies, or ( this year!) working on a personal art project. And all with no lectures! I prefer to work with you individually.

Drawing is fun! I run friendly and flexible workshops, built around a schedule that can be tuned to individual needs, and the second day is more loosely structured, so I can cover anything you personally request.

Don't miss this opportunity to join a small group of up to six artists in my own studio. I provide all the materials and we feed you - Jenny's lunches and home-made cakes are legendary!

Studio workshop, October 2011 This year in the studio I'm again concentrating on 2-day Weekend Workshops and the popular FOUNDATION now includes parts of Intermediate (such as drawing shadows). See below for the details.

These friendly workshops are designed for artists of all abilities, and lunches, paper, pencils and all other necessary supplies are included.

I'll have many of my original drawings available to view and study in close detail. And I'll be happy answer all queries and demonstrate specific techniques used. Please feel free to bring examples of your own work along for critique or advice.

DRAWING ANIMALS tends to fill quickly, so book now. And PERSONAL PROJECT is a new workshop requested by previous artists. Join in the fun. Only a small deposit is required to secure your seat.

Facebook post by Jane Kinroy Facebook post by Jane Kinroy

Times : 
10 am to 5 pm daily
Location : 
The Artist's Studio, Sessay near Thirsk, N. Yorkshire
Seats : 
Strictly limited to  artists to ensure individual attention
Lunches : 

NEW DATES coming soon!








Price includes Lunches, Refreshments and Equipment Pack comprising:
  • Sheets of Conqueror plate-finish paper (12" x 16") as required
  • 1 each Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils - 4B, 2B, H, 2H, 4H
  • 1 Staedtler vinyl art eraser
  • 1 pack Blu-Tack
  • 1 Pencil sharpener
  • 1 Blending tortillon

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Typical 2-day FOUNDATION

This workshop is flexible to take into account your present level of ability and would suit beginners to those with some experience. It's mainly technique based and, when appropriate, includes selected Intermediate techniques. A typical daily itinerary is as follows:
  • Basic techniques - shading, blending, and erasing
  • Using the Tapered Line
  • Shading in layers
  • Negative Drawing
  • Working from background to foreground
  • Using a variety of sources in one composition
  • Understanding and drawing textures (including hair)
DAY 1:
In the morning, as you work through the initial drawing exercises, I will offer instruction and assistance on drawing techniques that will help you to get used to working on Conqueror paper and my way of working.

As always, I'll explain both the 'How' and the more important 'Why' as I take you step-by-step through the basic techniques and introduce you to new ones.

In the afternoon, I will analyse the composition of one of my drawings that used a wide range of reference sources. You get to try out a background technique included in the study that is based on Negative Drawing. You'll finish with a drawing involving a more advanced use of the technique that is centred around the spontaneous drawing of background elements.

DAY 2:
This day is more loosely structured and I'll be pleased to demonstrate any techniques that you request, or answer any art related questions. You'll also receive personal tuition throughout the day as required. If you are unsure of anything please let me know so I can assist you.

You'll begin with the creation of textures, choosing between leaves, wood, and bricks and mortar as your subjects - or try all three. In the afternoon you'll be working on a composition that includes all the techniques and textures you've learned. And we can explore any subject or technique of interest to you. For example, we might tackle the creation of shadows, drawing locks of hair, or indenting techniques.

Typical 2-day INTERMEDIATE

This workshop will be rewritten before the event
If you're an artist who has some experience of drawing, knows the basic techniques, and now wants to learn more - this is the workshop for you. A little more academic than the Foundation workshop, it features exercises and tuition on improved techniques and other necessary skills, such as Negative Drawing and Advanced Shading.

As your skills progress, you begin to leave thoughts of technique behind and instead think about the message within your art - be it a simple story, a trigger for an emotional response, or just to emphasise the beauty of something. This workshop moves into that area - the mental preparation and mindset required to lift your art to a higher level.
  • Advanced techniques, such as Reverse Layering and using a unifying layer
  • Exploring Negative Space and Negative Drawing
  • High- and Low-key drawing
  • Dividing work into easily manageable sections
  • Working from background to foreground
  • Detecting and using visual clues to add clarity to your work
  • The power of shadows and their uses
  • Three-dimensional creative shading
  • Drawing hair - basic techniques
DAY 1:
In the morning, as you quickly work through the initial drawing exercises, I will advise you on using a chisel point, forming tapered lines, and burnishing techniques. These exercises will also will help you to get used to working on Conqueror and my way of working. Then have fun exploring the uses of Blu-Tack (supplied) as an eraser before moving on to shading techniques, including the use of tortillons and stumps as drawing tools, reverse layering, and producing very light seamless shading.

In the afternoon, you will begin a second series of exercises. The first explores the use of unifying layers, followed by a series of exercises designed to help you observe and work with negative space. Finally, you'll take a look at using high- and low-key drawing that will help you appreciate their uses - essential skills in adding impact to your work, or controlling the viewer's emotional response to it.

DAY 2:
I will show you how to break down any complex drawing into simple, manageable steps with two associated exercises.

After lunch, you'll explore the detection and rendering of Visual Clues - the elements within an object or surface that intrinsically describe it - that will transmit clear messages in your work. Then Mike will introduce you to the use and power of shadows - using them to clearly describe both three-dimensional positioning and form.

Finally, two exercises will be centred around three-dimensional and creative shading - how to create spontaneously, without any prior planning, to produce a natural result. This leads to the last exercise of the day involving both creative shading and the construction of a vital shadow.

This day is more loosely structured and I'll be pleased to demonstrate any techniques that you request, or answer any art related questions. I will also offer personal tuition throughout the day as required. If you are unsure of anything please let me know so I can help you.


If you are familiar with basic drawing techniques and interested in drawing animals (cats, dogs, wildlife, or even armadillos) this is the workshop for you. I'll share over 35 years of professional experience with you.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier The workshop features exercises, practical experience and tuition on techniques for drawing hair, and explores many other invaluable aspects of portraying animals. And you'll learn how to expand your portraiture into fully-fledged scenic compositions.

We'll also explore injecting life and emotion into your subjects, telling a simple story, using triggers for desired emotional responses, practical advice on photographing your subjects, and building composite scenes.

As always, I'll explain both the 'How' and the more important 'Why' as I take you through:
  • The initial exercises
  • Techniques of drawing believable hair
  • Dividing work into easily manageable sections
  • Working from background to foreground
  • Creating extendable lines and solid form
  • Using "drawing breaks"
And we'll cover:
  • White hair
  • Black hair
  • Any other hair or texture you request
  • and lots more...
This workshop can be whatever you want it to be. There is a basic structure but what the workshop explores is up to you - ask questions and I'll do my best to answer and demonstrate. Your questions will determine the additional subjects we cover.

I'll show you how you can take a portrait apart and build the subject section by section. That allows you to concentrate on building, for example, the nose while not thinking about hair - because trying to draw two things at once can reduce your understanding of both.

DAY 1:
In the morning, as you work through the initial drawing exercises, I will advise you on using a chisel point, blending versus layering, erasing, and forming tapered lines. These exercises will also will help you to get used to working on Conqueror and my way of working. Then you'll move on to a series of exercises that begin with the basic method of drawing waves in hair and progress to multiple curves - an essential hair-drawing tool.

In the afternoon, the previous exercise will be expanded into the drawing of white and black hair - that respectively depend on shadows and highlights. Then an exercise, with my assistance, will study ways of breaking a drawing down into easily manageable sections. Finally, we'll look at the techniques involved with layering hair and using the layers to break the drawing down into ever smaller sections, which promotes both ease and injecting a sense of reality.

All these exercises are designed to encourage questions from you. This workshop can cover as many aspects of drawing dogs, or any animals, that you want it to - as long as you ask the questions!

DAY 2:
To begin the day I'll analyse the composition of one of my drawings that uses a wide range of reference sources. To follow will be two exercises built around constructing dogs' noses and eyes - but the techniques are equally applicable to other animals and human eyes. During the day I'll give you some tips of photographing animals, creating composite scenes, generating appropriate emotions in your subjects, and successfully portraying "colours" in monochrome. And I'll help you with any other aspect of drawing that you would like me to cover.

After lunch (if we have sufficient time - this is a busy workshop!), you'll be introduced to a choice of final drawing that features much of what you have learned. You're welcome to bring your own project too if you prefer to work on that. You are not expected to have completed the drawing... if you wish to complete it later at home, post it to my Workshop Plus page to receive a critique - or assistance if you need to post it in stages. The workshop does not stop when you leave the venue!

Connemara Encounte


A adventure for this year! Join in the fun as we all learn together.

This workshop, requested by previous artists, is centred around your own project: pet, floral, landscape, portrait, still-life... whatever it is. And if you don't have a project in mind, we have a half dozen you can choose from.

Whether you're an artist with some experience of drawing, or know only the basic techniques, we can help you as a group - and, of course, I'd be delighted to assist you in any way I can. And, as we're in my studio, I have everything to hand that we might possibly need.
  • Work on your own project, or one of ours
  • Explore the variety of work in the studio
  • Learn new techniques in your own drawing
And aspects we might cover include:
  • Dividing work into manageable sections
  • Adding clarity to your work with Visual Clues
  • Working from background to foreground
  • Discovering the power of shadows and their uses
  • And the list goes on... No limits!
This workshop is for artists of ALL abilities - from beginner to proficient. Join in the fun as we all learn together. And, with no planneed structure, we can go in any direction and explore any and every aspect of drawing.

And don't forget... lunches are provided! I'm not saying Jenny's lunches are special...
but I have considered charging for them and throwing in a free workshop...


I've installed a projector in my studio so we can work as a group. The workshop is open for booking (limited to just 2 places!) and planned to include:
  • The basics of 1-point to 3-point perspective
  • Perspective tricks that will simply your life
  • Using atmospheric perspective to suggest recession
  • The "rules" of composition - all begging to be broken!
  • The basic designs and layouts of composition
  • Using false perspective and creating balance
  • Visual pointers - how to guide viewers through your work
  • Creating your Own World...
  • Problem solving in composite compositions
  • Using Photoshop layers to build compositions
We'll look at a variety of artwork and work out why the composition succeeds - or doesn't! And we'll dig deep to unearth all the tricks that you can reuse in your own work.

On the second day we'll explore computer-aided composition, including all the basic tools and commands, and how to put your composition together. You'll leave with a useful printout of the basic methods of composing in Affinity Photo or Photoshop (or similar), and keyboard shortcuts. And, because there's a lot of information to take in during this workshop, you'll take with you (as as PDF download) 54 pages of detailed information that cover everything we studied, and a resource you can refer to in years to come.

Done Balin' composition

Mike's Studio

440 sq ft fully air-conditioned
In a countryside setting
Lunches on the lawn when weather permits
Plentiful parking
Motorhomes may be accommodated by request
Need a break? Hug a mini-donkey...

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'Bindweed and Hoverfly' by Mike Sibley

At no time did you make me, or anyone else there, feel it was beyond our reach. Your demonstrations were so informative.
Thank you for an outstanding workshop. Truly I learned more from you in three days than I learned in two semesters at the community college. And it was fun too!
Thank you for another great workshop weekend. Once again I came away with more knowledge and some great tips to help me with my drawings.
Thanks for everything, I had a great time and learned a lot from you. I'll rank your workshop as five stars.
Thank you for a super workshop. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned so much and you have me hooked on graphite!
Fantastic workshop! A lot of "ah ha" moments! A wonderful experience! Thank you Mike for making it such a fun weekend!
I've been an artist almost all my life and have quite a bit of experience, but I really learned a lot in your workshop to better my work. I go to at least one workshop a year, and I believe yours was the best so far.
I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and feel completely inspired. Thank you for taking the time to work with us all and share some of your incredible gift.
As a teacher, I appreciated your format, one-on-one assistance, concrete examples, etc. I am glad you shared your expertise with us. It was a memory-maker weekend.