Noah in his studio

Noah Nolywaika aged 20 years is in his studio in Alaska

Learning to draw is a journey and everyone was a beginner once. Noah Nolywaika is a young professional artist inspired by the magnificent wilderness of the landscape, flora and fauna in Nenana Alaska. He was just 17 years of age when he first came to study the ‘Complete Online Drawing Course’ at DrawPj. Since his early beginnings, along with his mentored guidance Noah has rapidly developed and refined his natural ability for drawing taking his skills to a whole new level. In just three short years Noah has gone on to become an outstanding multi award-winning and professional selling artist.

A milestone in his short career, in 2023 Noah became a collectible artist when he won the Annual Alaska Railroad Print Poster Contest, as the Official Centennial Print for their 100-year anniversary. You can see his final award-winning work and read about the award here Railroad Centennial Year Artwork

Nenana railway by Noah Nolywaika

Alaska Railroad Award-winning artwork by Noah Nolywaika title: Nenana: Where River Meets Rail and Past Meets Future, created in graphite, coloured pencil and charcoal on paper.


Noah began his studies in the mentored level 1 course at Drawpj.com where he formed a foundation in the basic fundamentals of drawing, under the guidance of Brigitte Back (an alumni of the same course and since retired.) After Noah completed the mentored level 1 course, he then moved into mentored level two where I became his mentor. During his level he brought together all of his skills from the beginner course to create spectacular artworks such as the ones you see here titled: Inconspicuous, Snowbound and Encounter.

In this interview you will learn more about the interesting journey that Noah has been on, to fulfil his lifelong passion of learning to draw. I am sure you will agree that Noah is a dedicated, hard-working and committed young man with a huge future in the wonderful world of art.

drawing of trees and snow titled Inconspicuous

Artwork created by Noah Nolywaika, after he completed his beginner level course. Title: Inconspicuous Size: 10″ x 7.25″ Medium: Derwent charcoal pencils, Faber-Castell mechanical pencil, Saunders Waterford hot press 140lb watercolor paper Description: The Alaskan wilderness, clasped tightly in the frozen grip of winter, is an intensely peaceful and beautiful place. I count the quiet serenity of the sleeping landscape as one of my greatest treasures. In this drawing, I have attempted to show how much I cherish even a relatively obscure scene like this one.

Interview with Noah Nolywaika by Cindy Wider

Q: Noah where were you born and where do you live now?

A: My name is Noah Nolywaika, I am from Nenana, Alaska, but I was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, which is approximately fifty miles north of Nenana. My Dad was born in Germany and my Mom in New York, so our family’s English is rather colorful. I have two brothers and one sister; the four of us kids grew up in the same little log house on a lovely ten acres where my family has been located for over thirty years. We love to hunt, fish, garden, raise goats and chickens, enjoy the outdoors, and train our beautiful German Shepard, Ilsa.

snow trees and spade

Title: Snowbound Size: 10″ x 7.25″ Medium: Derwent charcoal pencils on Saunders Waterford, hot press, 140lb Description: For me, trees are an inexhaustible source of inspiration, splendor, and character. In this artwork, I aimed to symbolize a close family bond with the strength and beauty of these birches.


Q: How did you get started with art and drawing?

A: As a child, I enjoyed drawing pictures of things I was familiar with and admired, such as trees, houses, homestead scenes and steam locomotives which I found (and still find) very impressive. I was usually overly critical of my work, but the encouragement of my family, and my admiration for artists I esteemed, and the prospect of creating something better kept me pressing on in my artistic journey.

little fox in the snow

Artist: Noah Nolywaika Title: Encounter Size: 10″ x 7.25″ Medium: Derwent charcoal pencils on Saunders Waterford, high white, 140lb Description: Foxes and grouse frequent the area where I took the reference photo for this drawing. I thought it was important to incorporate them into a drawing of their beautiful surroundings.


Q: How did you find us here at DrawPj?

A: Toward the end of high school, I decided to study art, partly out of curiosity to see how my drawing ability would develop under professional guidance. I began browsing the web, looking for an online mentored art course that would give me a firm basis from which to build my skills. I was so excited when I found Drawpj, I could see right away that it was exactly what I wanted.

Q: When students start to study with me I ask them to create a pre-instruction drawing as a record of their ability before they start the course. What do you think when you look at the pre-instruction drawing you created way back then?

A: I am so thrilled to have come as far as I have. Never did I think I could achieve the standard of drawing that I am now at.

before and after image of noah's self-portrait

On the left is Noah’s Pre-instruction drawing. This is the level of drawing ability he had reached at the age of 17 years before he embarked on the journey to learn to draw using my system of teaching. The image on the right side is his ability to draw a likeness in a portrait at the end of the Portraiture Foundations section – which is just one-third of the way through the course.


Q: What was it like studying with mentored support?

A: I appreciated the mentored support immensely. It was extremely beneficial, having a professional to turn to who really believed in my work even when I did not. Brigitte was so enlightening and helpful; her instruction completely redefined my entire approach to art.

Noah began the ‘Complete Online Drawing Course’ as he studied the fundamental basics with the mentored support of Brigitte Back (instructor and alumni student of the course herself.) He followed the carefully-designed system of creating his drawings from the course, then emailing them for critique to make sure the skills were being practiced correctly along the way.

Noah learned six different pencil techniques that were later to be used as a fundamental foundation for his landscape illustrations. Here he completed the exercise titled ‘The Old Hayshed’ beautifully.

As Noah moved into the second major section of the course he discovered the 3 different ways to shade: Soft edges, Hard edges and gradations. He also learned how to position the five major areas of light and shadow to render realistic form. All of his brand new skills came together in his project ‘A Well-Traveled Shoe’ where the textures, tones and contours all come to life on the page.

portrait of Isha and 12 charcoal techniques

As Noah moved into Portraiture Foundations he had to pull together all of the skills he learned during the first section ‘Construction Drawing’ and the second section ‘Shading and Form.’ Then it was time to begin a new challenge with the medium of Charcoal. This medium is chosen in the course especially to allow students to experience a more expressive way of drawing. Noah embraced this medium so well. At the time he probably didn’t realise that this was to become one of his all-time favourite mediums (charcoal pencil.)

perspective boardwalk and tiles

Noah studied many of the important fundamentals of perspective in the beginner course. This provided a solid foundation for future drawings.


As Noah moved into the coloured pencil section he had to call upon all that he learned during the previous sections of the course; construction drawing, shading and form, portraiture foundations, perspective and finally here he also learned about the theory of colour. How to make a form move forwards and backwards in space using temperature, texture, tone with light and shade theory.

lake with ducks

Noah chose to create this beautiful drawing in coloured pencil as his final graduating piece from the beginner level titled ‘A Perfect Day’.


Q: What’s happening with your drawing journey right now?

A: I am presently working in charcoal and graphite, two of my favourite mediums, creating a series of drawings that portray the Alaskan wilderness in winter.

Noah began his mentored journey under my guidance to look more closely and deeply at his immediate environment. To discover what type of trees and wildlife exist where he lives in Nenana and find what is important to him. He sketches on location to gather reference materials and deeper knowledge of the subject. These sketches were created before the drawings above titled; Inconspicuous, Snowbound and Encounter.

More life-drawing sketches from Noah’s drawing book.


Q: Do you have any favourite drawings that you’ve created since studying at DrawPj?

A: My favourite drawing to date is “Inconspicuous”, my latest artwork.

Q: Have you won any awards, or held exhibitions, sold your art since you studied at DrawPj?

A:  I was awarded a special recognition in the Light Space and Time Art Gallery 10th Annual “Landscapes” online art competition and an honourable mention in the J. Mane Gallery 3rd Annual “Seasons” International Online Juried Art Exhibition. And I have sold open and limited edition prints of my three latest artworks.

Q: What are your favourite art materials and why?

A: I am largely still experimenting with various materials to find what works best for me, but so far my favourite paper is Saunders Waterford 140lb watercolour paper; it can handle heavy layering and fine detail and yields to erasers very well. I love to draw almost exclusively with the medium Derwent charcoal pencil. It is so versatile it seems almost universal.

Noah’s sketches as he studies his environment in Alaska


Q: Do you have any words of helpful advice for beginner artists?

A: My first thought would be to never place unreasonable demands on yourself. Just let your ability develop and mature from artwork to artwork at a steady pace so you can fully experience and enjoy your artist journey.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

A: My immediate plans are to complete a series of artworks and present them in an exhibition. I want to develop my style, continue studying with you as my mentor, market prints of my work, and enter more competitions.

List of Awards Noah has won since he began his mentored studies 

March 2023: Bronze Award – J. Mane Gallery 2023 Landscapes Online Juried Art Exhibition (Link)

February 2023: Honorable Mention – Gray Cube Gallery 2023 Animals Online Art Show (Link)

January 2023: Won – Annual Alaska Railroad Poster Contest (Link)

2022: Bronze Award – Artist Invitational 2022 International Juried Visual Arts Competition, Camelback Gallery. (Link)

May 2022: Selected for Inclusion – 2022 Seasons International Online Juried Art Exhibition, J. Mane Gallery. (Link)

April 2022: Honorable Mention – Spring Juried Exhibition, Entanglement, Bear Gallery, Fairbanks, Alaska

January 2022: Selected for inclusion – 2022 Elements of Nature Art Exhibition, J. Mane Gallery (Link)

June 2021: Honorable Mention – Landscapes Online Art Show, Grey Cube Gallery. (Link)

October 2020: Honorable Mention – 2020 Seasons International Online Juried Art Exhibition, J. Mane Gallery. (Link)

September 2020: Special Recognition – Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery 10th Annual Landscapes Art Competition, Painting and Other Media category. (Link)

For more images and information about Noah Nolywaika:

Website: https://www.noahnolywaika.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noahnolywaikaart