Tom Birmingham – I Can’t Draw and You Can Too! (Online); Saturdays, June 8-29, 2024

Dates: Saturdays, June 8-29, 2024
Time: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM Pacific Time (1:00-3:00 PM Eastern Time/6:00-8:00 PM London Time)
Level: All
Medium: Pen, Pencil and Watercolor

I have a secret to share.

If you’ve been telling yourself that you can’t draw since you were seven it’s not true.

Join me for a four-week sketchbook immersion, and I will show you that you can draw! You can draw beautifully. Maybe not like Rembrant or Picasso, but you draw exactly like you and that is a wonderful thing.

Your eye and your line can bring you tremendous satisfaction, if you just get out of your own way and stop telling yourself you can’t.

During this four-week sketchbook immersion we’ll experiment with ideas of observed sketch in line and watercolor that will give you access to satisfaction in the drawing process. Once you’ve learned to be more kind to yourself about your results, you’ll find that your natural abilities will develop. You’ll learn to coordinate what you see with what you put on the page. You will find that your powers of keen observation will enhance your art practice, no matter how representational or abstract you want to be.


While this workshop will include techniques to enhance your ability to see and draw, the focus is on discovering your innate strengths, and developing your level of satisfaction in the process.

This online workshop will be centered in a multimedia sketchbook, each week will introduce simple activities that you can practice all week to develop your eye, your hand, and your drawing ability.

Planned activities include –

A line is a dot that goes for a walk  – …or so said Paul Klee…looking at simple compositions in still life, let’s observe the proportion and intersection of the various objects, and how they sit in a three dimensional world. Now let’s craft a line that follows the shapes to create an image of what we see.

Introducing point of view – when the Renaissance reintroduced perspective to the art world, the viewer was invited to experience the artist’s point of view. From Michalangelo to Warhol, from the Pieta to Marilyn Monroe we’ve been entranced by this idea. Now let’s develop our own point of view and see how it in turn affects our images.

Portrait Roulette – there is nothing more daunting, nor more satisfying than drawing a person through observation. Play Portrait Roulette and you’ll  have an opportunity to observe the complexities of human expression and see how to simplify these complexities into a coherent likeness. We’ll explore what is important and what is not. Instead of an academic exercise in proportion and form, we’ll use observation to see where our hand can lead us.

The Color Green  – green is the most common color in the natural world (thank god for chlorophyll). But trying to capture the nuances of a green world it is easy to get bogged down in a boring mix of blue and yellow. Let’s practice a method of observed, relational color, and see what we can express with a very limited palette of paints. Together we’ll discover that while Blue and Yellow make Green, bringing Red into the mix opens up a world of possibilities.

This workshop is designed for every person who has a desire to draw, but has found traditional teaching techniques to be intimidating, confusing, or boring. Let’s have fun together, and discover that I can’t draw, and you can too!


Tom Birmingham is an artist living in Hamden, Connecticut. He has taught drawing and travel sketch in his unique method from Coast to Coast, in Italy, and in Mexico. He’s taught art with his wife, Erin Lee Gafill to everyone from professional artists to preschoolers for almost thirty years.

Seven years ago he picked up the brush for himself to begin his practice. “My strength as a teacher is closely aligned with my own learning process,” he says. “There is nothing that gives me more satisfaction than helping others develop their own skills of observation and rendering.”

Tom is on the creative arts faculty at Esalen Institute. He has taught for fifteen years at Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, Baja California. He leads annual sketch and writing workshops in Italy, and after 35 years living in Big Sur, California, he is excited to explore a new visual world on the Long Island Sound in Connecticut.

About Our Online Classes:

  • This class is taught live via Zoom. To take this class, you need a microphone and camera enabled computer OR an iPad /smart tablet OR a smart phone (android or IOS) and a strong internet connection.
  • You will have access to a private class message board on our website where you can share work, comment and ask questions. (Exact use of the message board, critique of student work and general class format is at the discretion of the instructor, please check course description for details.)
  • Class will be recorded and recordings expire 60 days after the final day of the course.
  • Participants will receive an email with the Zoom link and class details 5-7 days before the class starts (don’t forget to check your junk folder). Zoom link will also be posted in the class message board. Check your confirmation email for a message board link or visit your Online Classrooms to find your active classes.

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