Free Drawing School Online Challenge led by Luke Pell

22 June 2020

Free Drawing School Online Challenge led Luke Pell

Join the Free Drawing School live online every Monday at 10am.

A different drawing challenge is announced each week for you to get involved with at home between 10am-12pm guided live with an artist.

This week’s artist is Luke Pell, an artist based in Edinburgh, Scotland who collaborates with people and places, working across forms to imagine alternative contexts for performance, participation and discourse that might reveal wisdoms for living. Maker, curator, dramaturg and writer. Luke’s work has been presented throughout the UK and internationally. Currently an Associate Artist at Dance Base, Edinburgh and with Fevered Sleep, Luke was part of the Interdisciplinary Residency at Hospitalfield in 2018 and was an advisor alongside Janice Parker on the Hospitalfield Children’s Procession in 2019 with Mark Bleakley and Katie Miller.

The Free Drawing School Online continues over the summer with many more challenges as we invite lots of guest artists to design the weekly challenge for you to join in with.

The Free Drawing School challenges are designed to be done at home with the resources you can bring together from your drawers and cupboards.

The details of the challenge will be announced here and on social media at 10.00am.

You will have two hours in which to complete the challenge and post your work either in the comments on the Facebook event for others to see or on twitter or instagram with the hashtag #freedrawingschool.

You can also email your outcomes to

The Free Drawing School is made possible with generous funding support from The Robertson Trust and The National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Drawing the Outside In - Introduction

Hello I’m Luke Pell

I’m an artist based in Edinburgh I’m fascinated by detail, nuances of time, texture memory and landscape. I tend to work across art forms, my work is poetic and choreographic and seeks to draw together seemingly unrelated constellations of bodies and thought.

I regularly work in live performance as a collaborator with dance artists whose practices exist on the edges of things. I started out as visual artist mainly working with portraits then sculpture and found objects before moving into making designed environments and then performance art.

I also work as a writer.

One of the main focuses of my work is the landscape of the body and thinking about somatics – how do we work from the inside out, our lived experience in the landscapes we find ourselves in. Working between human body and the more-than-human environment around us.

My challenge for the Hospitalfield Drawing School next week is called Drawing the Outside In. For it you’ll need to go and do a bit of gathering and bring some things from the outside in. Things like branches or leaves, plants, flowers, thistle – anything that you can find in your garden or a garden or park or woodland near you – things that you can hold in the palm of your hand and probably no bigger than the length of your arm.

Gather yourself maybe about five or six things and along with those things you’ll also need some implements so pencils or oils or chalk or charcoal, or something you that you find to be a bit chunkier or heavier. What you need is a collection of things to draw and make marks with that have different weights.

You’ll also need something to draw on, if you have something like lining paper or a large roll that’s good, something you can get big with, but you can also work from A4 or A3 is also fine.

You need to collect those things before next week and then I’ll see you then for Drawing the Outside In with Luke Pell for the  Hospitalfield Drawing School Challenge.

Drawing the Outside In: Instructions

Hello I’m Luke Pell – Good morning and this is the Hospitalfield Drawing School challenge for this week

As I said in the introduction last week I’m primarily a performance, dance maker. So I work with the body, but my background began in visual arts. Portraiture and landscape have always been things that creep into my practice, I think a lot about the landscape of our bodies.

My approach to working with movement and dance is a somatic one, meaning how do we work from an understanding of the inside – out.

This morning’s challenge begins with a warm up: We’re going to reach our hands up and down and forward and back (and again) – and as you reach I want you to articulate your hands and feel all the movement of the muscles, the tendons, your skeletal structure. How do the things you draw with shift? How do they feel on a Monday morning?!

Give our hands a shake really fast until… when you stop you can feel the blood tingling in them – this is to increase our attention to sensation.

Then I want you to have a little handle of some of things you went out and collected – last week I suggested you might go out and get some plants, or branches, or leaves, things you might find in a park or garden or woodland.

Spend some time giving your attention to the detail, the texture, the nuance of these things, how do they feel against your skin – where does this surface meet with yours?

Then have a little look at the relationship between the structure of these things and the structure of yourself, where are the proportions similar, what’s the relationship between your forearm, your thumb, your fingers… to the stalk of a plant, its’ leaves, its’ flowers.

How are the scales similar of different?  Then, look a little bit more closely, beginning to notice where there are patterns in this organic matter that are similar or different to yours.

For example: I can see the edges here of leaves, they are almost furry and they sort of mirror or echo – have a relationship to – the hairs on my arms for me – being a fairly furry person.

So, what I’m going to begin with this morning is finding a drawing implement that has a similar weight or precision, materiality, to the thing that I’ve been looking at. So for me it’s this stalk (with a pencil) and I’m going to have an exploration of what it is to sketch out some of the patterns that I see in this item and in my surface.

  • Where are they similar where are they different?
  • How does drawing with an engagement with this thing offer a new lens to look at your arm, the surface of your body?
  • What details pop out for you?

What I’d like to propose for the challenge this morning is that you;

  • Work with a number of things that you’ve gathered and use them as little lenses or filters for feeling your way into exploring some details of your arm – you could also explore other body parts – but, start with your arm or hand.

For example, I might work with petals and the flesh of my thumb my fingerprint, what does it do to my noticing to hold, to squeeze, to press my fingertips into petals, what material does it draw me towards, does it make me want to move with an oil.

Similarly, I might work with a leaf and look at the palm and look at all the detail of the surface, the veins running through this leaf and the veins in my hand.

There are a few examples here on my desk, a palm/leaf here. I was working with this stalk earlier and my skeletal structure.

  • Work with around five or six experimental sketches, working with different materials and different bits of your arm or your palm and how drawing the outside in effects the way you look and work with materials.

Further notes:

Try to give 5-10 minutes (or more) to each exploration – including articulating your hands, arms and fingers. Handling and feeling the things you collected and spending time noticing the patterns and relationships before you start drawing.

Then give each exploration at least 10 minutes or more

You might like to –if it feels comfortable for you – try doing some of these (or all) with your eyes closed and really feeling the shapes, structures, sensations and drawing from that inside experience out! 

You can email your drawings to or share on social media using #freedrawingschool


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