Winter Drawing Course: Drawing on Art History

Wednesdays 2pm – 5pm, Jan 12 – Apr 6, 2022 Classroom Delivery

File:Michelangelo Buonarroti - Study for the Libyan Sibyl - WGA15540.jpg -  Wikimedia Commons
Michelangelo’s study for the Libyan Sibyl, 1511, chalk on paper, The Metropolitan Museum

This course draws directly on the rich tradition of artists’ training: learning the elements of art by copying the “Masters.” In this course students explore visual art’s seven fundamental building blocks of line, shape, colour, texture, form, value and space while developing a regular sketching “habit”. With help from Nicolaides, Robert Beverly Hale, and Hans Hoffmann, this course will be delivered through rigorous in-class exercises, slide show presentations, and special projects relating to the techniques of Rembrandt, Rubens, DaVinci, Raphael and Schongauer, as well as a few 19th and 20th century master drafts people such as Hiroshige, Hockney, Cezanne, Schiele and Dumas. Use of traditional materials such as ink and charcoal will be encouraged.

Register at


Summer Courses with Jessica!

These courses are fast and playful– a great way to dip into the rich world of art’s history and practice!

The Sixties: Minimalism and Beyond , Tuesdays, from 2-4pm, July 6 – Aug 10

Art History: Romanticism to Realism , Tuesdays, from 7-9pm, July 6-Aug 10

The Practicing Artist: Developing a Practice, Wednesdays, 10-12pm, July 7- Aug 11

Special Tuition Discount: $145 (regularly $185). Please note that all courses will be offered online.
Instructors will deliver online courses using the easily downloadable Zoom platform in real time. Each course will be accompanied by a course blog where all the class information such as slide presentations, handouts and links (including links to recorded weekly classes) will be posted.

Register at: Vancouver Island School of Art
250-380-3500 or


Built around 420 BCE, the Erechtheion, or Porch of the Caryatids, is adorned with columnar supports carved in the likeness of draped women with baskets of offerings on their heads. These are caryatids: columns shaped like women. 

Athena, the goddess of wisdom, is also the goddess of renouncing femininity; the goddess of integrated masculinity and femininity was at ease in the deeply patriarchal world of ancient Greece.  The porch faces the Parthenon, her principal temple and crown of this original ol’ boy’s club, the Acropolis, perpetually processing towards her feast. 

Teaching Western Art History, I have become aware of the resurgences of regressive attitudes towards women that attend periods of neo-classicism, and the silent witness of the caryatids to 2,400 years of Western history. My studies of the porch contemplate beauty, freedom, subjugation, tradition and ruin. The concept of a Caryatid transforms arcades of columns in temples and cathedrals alike into a vast multiplicity of monuments; evidence of women’s presence in men’s institutions. Rows and rows of columns of quietly faithful women who’s silent guidance and protection led history’s heroes to success. Goddesses and maidens quietly bringing the feast, holding up the sky, delivering victory. Caryatids all. 

My drawings animate an awkwardness with and ignorance of our classical heritage/baggage. Blind contour and perseverant doodling allow me to linger contemplatively over ancient sources of Western tradition and/but result in garbled images that betray my unease with the subjects. Absences, erasures, imbrications, distortions — all are allowed into my drawings to give witness to the ambivalence towards the subject, towards my tradition; a lack of ease combined with an inexorable attraction. The silent ornaments bear structural weight. 

Artist’s statement for INTERIOR CASTLES

“I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions.” [1]

Theresa of Avila

Interior Castles,1577



Like Teresa writing in the Castilian vernacular in her cell, my artistic discipline is part of my contemplative practice. My paintings are idiosyncratically devotional. They are the outgrowth of a contemporary contemplative exercise. I trace over the walls and doorways of Medieval rooms to re-inhabit these imaginary spaces that were so carefully prepared for the occurrence of the miraculous.


In order to give vision to my imagination of the sacred within myself, I imbibe Medieval spiritual writings while working on a series. St Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castles fit my interest in architectural archetypes. The 16th century Spanish Carmelite founded the reformed ‘Discalced’ Carmelite order. Butler’s Lives of the Saints reports that she, who was begged by her male superiors to write a treatise on prayer, was also regularly chastised for lingering in the convent parlour to converse with the society that convened there. Her affability and charm were a pleasure to her and her company, but her confessors warned that she was neglecting her prayer and not building a good foundation for an ‘interior life’. Her testimony of confidently holding these two natures within herself consoles my anxiety about having to choose between the development of my private and public selves.

Theresa says, “In speaking of the soul we must always think of it as spacious, ample and lofty; and this can be done without the least exaggeration, for the soul’s capacity is much greater than we can realize.” She says it to think of it “as comprising not just a few rooms, but millions.” [2] Her conception of the soul as an unimaginably vast structure inspired me to make work that challenges my sense of the possible by welcoming complexity into my construction of space.


In my work with medieval altarpieces and illuminated manuscripts I copy out the architecture from sacred scenes in an earnest but haphazard style that refers to our own Zeitgeist: my paintings give voice to the frustration of attention and dissolution of belief in our time, while nevertheless occupying the space of a faithfully copied scriptural text.


[1] Theresa of Avila, Interior Castles, trans. and ed. E. Allison Peers (New York: Dover, 2007), 15,

[2] Theresa of Avila, Castles, 22, 24.