Mary Jane Clark’s self portrait when she started the course 15 months ago and her green eye coloured pencil drawing recently.

Is it possible to learn to draw in about a year?
I say yes over and over again

Have you ever really wanted to learn how to draw? Maybe you’ve been doing okay but now you’ve reached a point where you feel stuck, like you’re at this blockage and can’t seem to move forward. I understand the feeling, and so do many of my mentored students including Mary Jane Clark. They’ve been there too once, and come out the other side being able to draw really well.

Mary Jane Clark’s coloured pencil drawing of the project ‘Autumn Apples on Olive Wood’ with Arches Aquarille Watercoulor Cold Pressed paper 300gsm and Derwent ProColour pencils at 8.5×11 inches.

Sometimes the breakthrough in drawing that you need requires such a tiny shift in the way you’re doing things, that it could seem almost impossible to discover exactly where that missing link is. It’s not hard for me! I have helped thousands of people to grow and break through barriers that they previously thought impossible for them. I can see exactly where and how my student’s work needs to be improved and I know how to help them fix it. One baby step at a time until it all adds up to the whole skill of drawing. Its not about critiquing just that one individual piece; its about the whole skill set.

It is definitely possible for most people to rapidly develop drawing skills if you have the right attitude and you’re prepared to put in the consistent time-commitment along with your best efforts. You just need a plan of action, a dedicated study path and some extra help to lead you through the journey.

Maybe Mary Jane Clark’s journey will inspire you to pick up the pencil and just begin.

In this post I’m sharing the journey of my mentored student Mary Jane Clark from when she first came to me a little over 12 months ago. Now she can easily be a professional artist commissioning and selling her work if she chooses to.

Her journey is a classic example of the type of development and growth that many of my students are able to achieve when they absolutely dedicate themselves to the course and work as a team alongside me with the mentored support that I offer. You can see from the images below how Mary Jane’s skills developed slowly over the past 12 -15 months and in every artwork she has taken so much care to do her best work. You can almost see the patience in her delicate shading and beautiful drawing skills.

It gives me great pleasure to share this journey that Mary Jane has been on, to inspire you and motivate you to just begin or keep going if you’re on the journey too.

Mary Jane Clark’s Drawing Journey

Peppie The Pup

Beginners to the course start out with fun, easy exercises while learning at the same time. This helps to develop confidence and great foundation skills from the start. Learning one of the most fundamental methods that most artists need to develop from the very beginning, regardless of their chosen drawing style or medium; ‘Construction Drawing’ Mary Jane created a wonderful illustration of our ‘Peppie The Pup.’

She learned to draw shapes, halve lines, sketch and way more. She also discovered how to see shapes in the environment and how to use those shapes to map out the foundation of the drawing before adding curves last. This method is extremely valuable and popular among many professional artists, not limited to cartoon-like images but with realism as well.

Mary Jane’s Peppie The Pup from the course


Silver Kettle and Column Fold

In these two drawings below, Mary Jane has successfully demonstrated fundamental shading skills as she has been taught in her course:

  • 5 major areas of light and shade correctly positioned (Full Light, Shadow Edge, Cast Shadow, Half-tones and Reflected Light.)
  • 6 levels of tone beautifully applied from level 1 as the white of the paper to level 6 as the darkest dark.
  • 3 different ways of shading; soft edge, hard edge and gradation.
  • Blending with a stump/tissue or cotton bud

Mary Jane’s Silver Kettle and Column Fold fin graphite rom the course


A ‘Shoe Well-travelled’ Project

Now we can see Mary Jane’s confidence develing here. In the major project that you see below, ‘A Shoe Well-travelled’ the challenge she had was to combine everything she learned so far in the course. She also had to add the new skills of texture in the folds of the leather shoe, the rubber sole, the laces and texture of smoother un-creased leather in the remainder of the shoe using the methods of Circling, Impressing and Shading. She succeeded!


Mary Jane’s ‘Shoe Well-travelled’ project drawing in graphite


Portrait in graphite

In Mary Jane’s beautiful portrait of the drawing ‘Isha’ she demonstrates a great example of her continued commitment to the course and all that she is learning. Her outstanding skill development is now rewarding her and her efforts are all coming together for her. Mary Jane’s meticulous shading and long slow patience are evident here as she continues on the journey through the course with mentored support.

Mary Jane’s ‘Portrait of Isha’ in graphite from the course


Getting started with charcoal

Whenever my mentored students first begin with charcoal its a bit of a challenge until they figure out that its nothing at all like graphite. Its actually easier to get a great result if you have the foundation skills in shading to begin with. Because its such an intuitive medium, having a foundation of skills in shading first works a dream. Here you can see how Mary Jane has already begun to master this medium too. In the charcoal section Mary Jane discovered how to create 3 different hairstyles and various textures such as wood and then finally her own self portrait that you can see below.

Mary Jane’s ‘Male Short Hair’ and ‘Wooden Post’ in charcoal from the course

Mary Jane’s ‘Self Portrait’ in charcoal from the course


Moving in to Perspective and Proportion

As Mary Jane continued through the course she moved into the all-important section on Perspective and truly excelled once again! You can see her final project below.

Mary Jane’s ‘Little House in the English Countryside’ from the perspective section of the course


Traveling into colour!

With many of the basic fundamentals now under her belt Mary Jane was ready for the next challenge as she moved into the coloured pencil section. She learned how to bring together all she had learned and now added to that foundation training to apply colour her theory of colour with temperature and tone needed to give the illusion of form.

Mary Jane’s coloured pencil drawings ‘Purple African Daisy’ and ‘Apple’ from the course


Stepping up into mentored 2 level

Mary Jane was invited to study in my mentored 2 level while she was still in mentored 1. I invite my students into this process if I see they have the passion for drawing, are dedicated and developing at a rapid rate. I saw enormous potential in Mary Jane very early on. This eye was drawn from a ‘watch along’ I created, not a tutorial. She did great and made it her own. This drawing was created in Derwent Lightfast Pencils on Lightfast paper.

Mary Jane’s drawing in coloured pencil from the mentored 2 level course ‘Green Eye’



This is a beautiful record of the journey that Mary Jane Clark has been on. She is continuing with her final project in the Mentored 1 level ‘Composition’ where she now has the opportunity to learn my 3-Stage process of taking an idea into a completed artwork. Throughout the other 5 stages of the course she had to learn everything that was required for this final section of the course. I can’t wait to see what she does next!

This is what Mary Jane had to say in the early stages of the course

“I have to tell you that when you suggested the mentor program, I was not sure it was going to be the right thing for me. I know that I would never have learned as much as I have if I had been doing this program on my own. You and this course were one of the highlights of the past year for me. Although drawing has been a dream of mine, I never thought I would get to this stage. You have taught me to look at things differently and to be patient with the process. These are extremely valuable skills for me! So, thank you for taking the time to guide me through this process. Your input is what makes the difference in my progress.”

Thank you!
Mary Jane