Drawn to Expression


PicMonkey Collage 2

Drawn to Expression is now available as a self-paced, self study course.

DtoE self study

Interested in purchasing more than one of my courses?

I now offer a variety of bundle options. Purchase multiple courses as a bundle package and save!

Available Drawn to Expression bundle packages include:

Bundle 1

Drawn to Expression + Unearth, Gather, Create + Portraits – Your Art, Your Way

Register for all three of my long courses for only £280!

Register for Bundle Package 1

Bundle 3

Drawn to Expression + Portraits – Your Art, Your Way

Register for both courses for only £210!

Register for Bundle Package 3

Bundle 4

Drawn to Expression + Unearth, Gather, Create

Register for both courses for only £170!

Register for Bundle Package 4

Please read all the information below prior to purchasing as no refunds can be given.

If you have any questions you can email us at help(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)gillianleesmithartschool.com.


Every  mark tells a story. Every line is an expression – an unearthing of you as an artist.

A whisper or a shout – the language of drawing.

As unique as your way of communicating – dialect, accent, intonation, phrasing …

… a whisper, a statement, or a shout.

pencil history marks portrait cropped


Drawing is not just a visual exercise but a way of imparting your energy and emotions to the paper with very little hampering your ability to leave your mark – you can feel every line, every mark, every stroke. It is a physical act – your touch – your connection – heart to hand to paper.

I love all forms of creating art, but drawing materials never fail to inspire me to stretch and grow as an artist. They enable me to create freely and in the moment …. to liberate me from the idea of perfection … and to embrace unpredictability.

They allow me to capture ideas quickly any time, any where – imagery which can then be worked up to more complete works of art in the studio.

They help me overcome fear of making a mark in a way that other materials cannot.

So this course is about drawing – about making a mark … and then making another …. and then another.

It is about getting to the table, or the easel and staying there because we don’t want to be anywhere else.

I have collected together many ideas from my time at art college, my sketchbooks and many techniques and ways of being expressive from my years since in order to help you discover ways of loosening up and being more expressive in your practice.

portrait 4

The self study version of the course is available here.

The price of the course is £95.00 (please note that this price is in Great British Pounds – you can find the price in your own currency at www.xe.com)

DtoE self study

Each section of the course takes you through experimenting and working on lots of exercises and studies to enable you to loosen up and be expressive. Each of the four sections finishes with more fully realised work of art that brings together all of your previous practice.

PART ONE – Creating a visual language

Taking my love of mark-making as a focus we will be using our materials to discover, gather and experiment.

PART TWO – Expecting the unexpected

Lessons in letting go of expectations and encouraging unpredictability.

PART THREE – Layer upon layer

Creating rich surfaces with depth and atmosphere – a journey of discovery!

PART FOUR – Your art, your way

Pushing our own ability to edit, make choices and use our own creative language.




Each section focusses on

 – exercises to get you to the easel and get your brain, hand and creativity flowing

– developing a book (or books) of tools and techniques to help you grow as an artist

– prompts and encouragement to keep you practising every day (even when you don’t have much time)

– a variety of subject matters to suit your own artistic interests

– exercises that you can return to time and time again to expand upon, making them your own

– ways of building upon the exercises in this course to complete more resolved works of art


We will be …

Working on different scales – large sheets of paper to enable us to be more free in our mark-making and drawing.

working more on ‘process’ rather than ‘product’ – lots and lots of studies which you can build on for future work drawings and paintings.


discovering new materials and finding ways of experimenting with more familiar ones,

exercising our expressive abilities


creating atmosphere

building upon creating our own unique language through art

running man 2

If you are still unsure of whether this course is for you then you can read more about how it in the ‘created for you’ section below and also heartfelt testimonials from my previous and current students.

Have you ever ….

… let fear and that feeling of being ‘stuck’ in your art practice stop you from getting to the easel?

I have! Many times. And this course contains many of the ways that I have got through this – ways that have helped me grow as an artist and pushed me to discover more and create more.

Have you ever …

… struggled to know how artists make choices between what to include and what to leave out?

… wondered how you can say more with less?

… felt a desire to loosen up and be more expressive in your art?

… wanted confront fears of imperfection and lack of motivation?

… wanted to gain confidence in tapping into what makes us unique and individual and bring that to your art?

Many people dream of going to art college or attending art classes but it is not always possible. We might lead busy lives, or not have a class near us, or find the idea of creating in a group of people intimidating, or we might must prefer to work around the time we have in our own space.

You might have the skills to create art but struggle with ideas and what to paint – you know you could be deeply inspired but there are just so many options out there! I know that feeling and I have worked hard in my own practice to give priority to the ideas and let the techniques suit the story I am trying to tell.

There is so much to learn, so much to experience and so much to say as a creative individual – and we can all do it! We just need to open our hearts, dig deep and embrace the challenge.

How is this course different from Unearth Gather Create

Each and every lesson in Drawn to Expression is new and unique to this course. This is my first in a series of courses which takes an element of Unearth Gather Create and expands on it to stretch you even further as an artist and help you grow in your practice. If you studied on UGC then you will know that I love talking about materials and techniques, but even more I am inspired to teach ways of creating art that is unique to every individual – ideas, practice, experimentation – so Drawing to Expression goes deeper into expanding on your practice (and mine) to bring about even more individuality and expression to your work.

Does this Drawn to Expression have painting tutorials?

This course is a course in using drawing materials to discover our creative language so there are no specific painting techniques. However in the future I will be doing an expressive painting course to follow on from this one.

How is class content delivered?

 The course content is made available to you on a password protected website and there are lots of videos, reading and prompts to encourage you to practice your own creativity.

Immediately after purchasing the course, you will be sent email confirmation of your place on this expressive drawing course, which will include the link to the classroom site and password. If you have registered for the course and have not heard anything, please check your junk or spam mail folder as emails can sometimes end up there. If you still have not received confirmation, please contact us at help(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)gillianleesmithartschool.com.

What do I require to access and participate in the course?

You will need a pc or laptop and high speed internet connection. The videos are filmed in HD although you can choose to switch this off and view them at a lower resolution. You may be able to use a mobile or tablet to view some of the class content but the class is rich in visuals and there is a fair amount of reading, so mobile devices may find it difficult to load all the content on the site. I am afraid I cannot advise on particular technical resources you may have, so be sure that you are able to access the type of info needed. Generally if you can watch You tube videos or Vimeo videos and your technology loads content quickly and efficiently then you should not have a problem.

Do I need to access the class at particular times?

The beauty of the internet and the e-course format is that no matter where you are in the world you can follow along at your own pace.

How do I connect with you the tutor and the other students?

A Facebook page is only made available to students of the ‘live’ session. You will have the opportunity to study on the next live course available and will be sent an email once dates are made available.

You can however use #drawntoexpression on instagram to connect with other students of the course and my name is @GillianLeeSmithartist there.

How long will the course content be available for?

The course content will be available indefinitely (for as long as I am able to maintain the sites) to enable you to work along at your own pace.

Can I share/sell the artwork I make on this course?

Of course you can! If you are sharing your images I would appreciate though if you could mention the course for those who might be interested in finding out more about it.

Can I share course content, lessons, videos, or images from the class site?

I would respectfully ask you not to share any content (videos, images or text) from this course to any site, website, pinterest, or in any of your own workshops. I put a huge amount of work into each and every aspect of my teaching and to keep it original and true to the work I do. You can of course direct interested people to the course description as the likelihood will be that I will run the course again should there be enough interest.

How do I purchase a place on the course?

The course is purchased by clicking the button below which will take you to the registration page.

I am so fortunate to be in this position where I can pass on the things I have learned myself, in my own way. Each time I teach I learn something new and the interaction with the students is a key part of that. Below are some testimonials from former and current students of Drawn to Expression

The thoughtful layering of the course material and your supportive teaching style – giving the student the foundation with which to work and the confidence to go to the next level (i.e. lessons and beyond).  I have dramatically increased the number of works completed and frequency of times in the studio during a week.

Joan Currie


Gillian, you are a natural born teacher. This is an amazing gift and not everyone has it. Many can teach technique and do it well but only some can truly inspire and help another person bring out the essence of what they hold inside. (I’m speaking from the point of view of a retired teacher). So thank you for all you have helped me to try, to experience and for helping me to move past fear of what others think.

Judy Byer


I appreciate the work that you put into your courses. You offer so much material, so many demonstrations and every day is extraordinary in its content. Thank you, I feel like I get more than my money’s worth when I do your ecourse.



This wonderful course is filled to the brim with information and high quality videos which are accompanied by beautiful music and narrative when appropriate – there is so much content – enough to keep you going for months and months!!  The inspiration, ideas and techniques of this course create a canvas for creativity, freedom of expression, looseness and allows the student to embrace any perceived imperfections in their work. You are a wonderful, inspiring and thoughtful teacher Gillian!!

Nicky Kegan


The content of the course is SO very incredible, the written word and the videos are exemplary, but I think that it is you, Gillian that is DtoE’s greatest strength. Your way of teaching and your gentle encouragement is ‘exactly’ what I needed. Just perfect! The greatest shift for me is knowing that with practice (practice practice practice) and willingness to try (new things too!) I ‘can’ achieve my goals. Sounds cliché I know, but I really couldn’t see this so clearly before!

Joan Windmill


Gillian’s courses are always beyond my expectations. She generously shares are artistic knowledge helping us to grow as artists. The content is rich in information. Gillian starts by laying out the foundation of the workshops, by starting to introduce the basics and she continues by introducing different approaches throughout the course until we reach the last week. We recapitulate some of our previous exercises from the first weeks , and eventual summarize our learning from everything we did in the beginning by putting it all together into a composition at the very end. I would suggest anyone to take a class with Gillian. She is a great teacher!

Mariette Hebert


This course far exceeded my expectations. I came to the course with two hopes – one, to draw something again after a very long break; and two, to loosen up a little. Both these things have been achieved (hopefully), but also I now feel far more inclined to switch mediums and techniques, instead of reverting to old favourites out of habit. Instead, I think about what might suit the subject or my mood.

Magdalena Moon


The course is everything I wanted and needed – I thoroughly recommend it.

Suki White


This course helped me to draw/paint like myself like no other course has. When I look back through my work, I am excited by what I see and what I see is ME.  I allow myself to go further, and sometimes to stop earlier to produce more expressive art that’s true to me. I think less about what others may like or not like.

Mary Evans


Your class helped me see the importance of telling a story with the juxtaposition of images, the layering of marks, and the variety of lines. It was encouraging to have you say to let the materials and marks surprise and inspire you. I really loved all of the images you posted that showed other artists using a variety of expressive techniques. It made me feel that I might be alright, even though I express with more of a whisper than a shout!

Elisabeth Schroeder


art materials quote

Please note that I have listed specific brands as suggestions – you do not have to get the exact items on this list. Also if you have any questions or any problems finding anything let me know and I will try to help.

Just a word of reassurance regarding purchasing art materials. Whilst it is lovely to have ‘everything’, beautiful art can in fact be created with just a pencil and paper. The list here is just a suggestion of items to get and many of them you will likely already have. I have highlighted which items are ‘indulgence’ items and given alternatives if you are on a budget.  So if you already have materials (even ones not on the list) then go with those – watch the videos when the course begins and see what really appeals to you before purchasing materials that you may never need. Remember you have access to the class tutorials for a long time so things can be bought as you go along.

Materials list – this is the basic list.

You can find the specific list here for UK students


Here for USA students

Paper – watercolour paper, drawing paper, baking parchment,

Tracing paper, black tissue paper, cardboard for book, carbon paper, ephemera or magazine pages

Drawing media – pencils, graphite powder, stabilo,

Indian ink, charcoal sticks and pencils, conte sticks and pencils, ballpoint pen, other pens in variety of thicknesses (just use what you have already), various erasers – stick, kneaded and block, white pastels

Other media – oil bars in transparent and white, watercolour pen, thread, needle

Masking tape, linseed oil, bleach, white gesso, knife, something with a point – a skewer or embossing tool

Whilst I have not included any colours on the list you will find as you go on that you can use any other mediums you have in colours – suggestions are soft and hard pastels, inks, crayons, felt tip pens, colour pencils

Comments 18

  1. Deborah Kyle

    Hi, I’d love to sign up for the next e course!
    I’m loving living in Chicago and would love to get creative again.
    Love all your work Gillian

    1. Post
  2. Gail cohen

    Hi Gillian. I just read your summary about the upcoming workshop and I may be interested in participating. Do you have more examples of what we will be doing asI am unclear about the content. Sounds like sketchbook drawing? Or am I missing something?

    I am happy you are doing well and feeling better, I hope. Strangely enough, I developed dizziness in March and it never subsided.

    Hope to hear from you soon.


    1. Post

      Hi Gail – I have emailed you with some thoughts – my main aim for this course is to challenge students to get past that idea of perfection – to think more about PROCESS than product – to work intuitively and expressively – and to loosen up.

    1. Post
  3. Brandy Emerson

    Please save me a spot. I live in California and will register about 7 A.M. Monday morning Los Angeles time, I can’t wait.

    XOXO Brandy

  4. jeannie pasch

    Hi Gillian – I’m taking this course in November. The question I have is:

    I also am working thru the Unearth Gather Create class, and asked to join the Facebook page. That request has been “pending” for over a month. Can you help me with joining the page? Thanks, I’d love to see everyone’s work and share mine. Oh, and I tried to contact you thru the Unearth contact page but it didn’t work…
    Looking forward to the November class.

  5. Sandra

    forgive me for not knowing how an online course works. The write up sounds brilliant and I’d love to participate. Is it like being in an online lecture and you have to be present during predetermined hours? I really have no idea.

  6. Sharon Jonquil

    Hi there, I am signed up for your Portland, Oregon course in 2017, and would like to do the January 2016 class but wonder if it is significantly different or a lot of overlap? Thanks for helping me figure that out, best, Sharon

  7. Sandy Derryberry

    Please save me a spot for the second round of this class slated for January 2016. After our week together in Saluda I know that further studies under your tutelage are a must. Thanks so much!! xoxo

    1. Post
    1. Post

      Hi Nora – Thank you for your enquiry. The self study course does not include feedback. This is only available in the live classes. There may be an option in the future for a ‘feedback package’ which can be added onto any courses bought but this is not something that is currently available. Gillian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *