Renaissance Apprenticeship | The Foundations of Drawing


This course is centred on teaching the historical process of Italian Renaissance Drawing. The artists of Renaissance Italy had a highly distinctive approach to drawing which was rooted in a dynamic artistic tradition. During the fifteenth century, learning to draw within this tradition involved workshop training where apprentices began by drawing simple figurative subjects and gradually acquired the ability to draw directly from nature alongside their own inventive imagination. The approach to drawing of artists like Andrea del Verrocchio, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo was learned in this context of Renaissance Workshop training and while each of these artists’ work is unique, they all reflect the drawing process passed on in Florence during the fifteenth century. Their drawings are strikingly vivid, and they show the unique hand and vision of the artist who made them because of the spontaneity and self-affirmation inherent within their manner of execution.



The Renaissance Drawing Apprenticeship Course shows you the fundamental aspects of Italian Renaissance drawing from beginning a drawing with the first lines to modelling the form with tone and refining design with loose contours. The course explores and reconstructs in meticulous detail the historical working process of the masters of the Italian Renaissance to present an historically authentic step-by-step approach drawn from the past.

You will discover the unique methodology of the Renaissance masters and learn to execute drawings in a manner derived from the same teachings absorbed by apprentices in the artists’ workshops of Renaissance Florence.

The principle aim of this course is to explore and illuminate the education in drawing given to Leonardo da Vinci by Andrea del Verrocchio. In this course we reconstruct as best we can the precise approach and process used by Verrocchio in his figurative drawings.

Course Format:

Every Class takes place live online via Zoom where you are taught by Jon, the founder of The Renaissance Workshop. A detailed step-by-step demonstration is provided live with a birds-eye view above Jon’s drawing while he draws and teaches. You can show your work and receive help during the class while the live demonstration is ongoing. feedback is provided at the end of each class and you can receive assistance and guidance at any point during the session. The group is interactive, and you will have a learning experience with a group. It is a very friendly and supporting online space.

Each class runs for Two Hours once per week and an email containing the Zoom Access Link and information about the class is sent out the day before the class.

Each class begins with an introduction to the specific topic of the session before the drawing and demonstrations begin. Drawing exercises during the classes range in duration from ten-minute short exercises to sustained drawings which last more than an hour.

You are encouraged to do homework while it is not compulsory. You will be set homework every other week and will have a two-week period to complete each assignment. Some assignments consist of several drawings while others consist of few or one more sustained piece.

Classes are recorded and are available to stream for a week after the class takes place so if you miss a class you can easily catch up. Recordings are also available to those who silmply wish to repeat the class.


This course is suitable for complete beginners and for experienced artists who wish to see how drawing was approached in the Renaissance.


For Terms 1 and 2 you simply need pencils (hard or medium) or silverpoint and white or off-white paper. We follow how artists were trained in the Renaissance with their first experiences of drawing being in a fine linear medium (such as silverpoint) on a white ground. It is recommended that you work on a medium scale with your sheets of paper being around 30 x 23 cm.

For Term 3 and 4 we introduce the use of toned paper which can either be purchased or can be prepared at home by applying a ground to white paper. We also introduce the use of ink and wash which can easily and affordably be purchased. A dip pen or quill as well as a brush and mixing dish will be needed when using ink.

Course Content | Terms 1 – 4:

Term 1: Starting and Developing a Drawing | The Head and Face

This term introduces you to Italian Renaissance Drawing by showing you how artists started their drawings of the head and face. We discern where they started and how they built the drawing up. You will learn the proportions of the head and face and how to position the features. You will also learn how to add form and volume with shading.

Term 2: Drawing the Human Body | The Dynamics of the Figure

This term teaches you how to draw the full figure by building on from the head and face to include the other main forms of the body. You will learn the proportions of the body and how to show movement by the positioning of the parts. You will also learn how to enhance the visual sense of action using tone.

Term 3: Drawing from the Ancients | Darkness, Light, and Relief

This Term focusses on how to model a sense of light and relief in a figurative drawing using chiaroscuro, or the dynamics of shadow and light. You will learn how to create sculptural effects and a dynamic sense of form by combining a precise linear approach with a sophisticated application of tone.

Term 4: Understanding the System of the Body | The Skeleton

This Term goes beneath the surface of the skin and the muscles to show you the skeletal system of the human body. You will learn to draw each of the bones in the body and how they are connected. Week by week we will focus on a separate main structure and apply historical techniques to illustrate the form and dynamic of the human skeleton.

Additional information

Academic Year

2022 – 2023, 2023 – 2024

Full Year or Termly

Term 2 (Mondays from 9 January 2023 to 13 March, 4-6 pm UK Time), Term 3 (Mondays from 17 April to 19 June, 4-6 pm UK Time), Term 4 (Mondays from 3 July to 4 Sept, 4-6 pm UK Time), Full Year, Term 1 (Mondays from 18 Sept 2023 to 20 November)