Even the world’s greatest art institutions need to innovate to keep up with today’s world. Here, we describe the Royal Academy’s brilliant new way of doing so.

On January 25, the Royal Academy broadcast the world’s first live-streamed life-drawing class from its historic Life Room. In keeping with its thoroughly modern vibe, the class was called #LifeDrawingLive.

Led by prominent British portraitist Jonathan Yeo, hordes of people from all over the world tuned in to turn their hand to this ancient artistic tradition. And they loved it. Over 700 drawings have since been shared across social media from #LifeDrawingLive participants.

Though the class is, obviously, no longer live it can still be watched online. Indeed, over 50,000 people have viewed #LifeDrawingLive so far. You, too, can learn the subtleties of life drawing, as studied by such luminaries as Turner and Constable, by clicking here.

All you need for the 90-minute session is some paper and a pencil. The RA recommends that you watch the class on a desktop computer and go full-screen in order to get the best view of the model, Andrew. They encourage you to share your thoughts and drawings on Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag #LifeDrawingLive.

The RA says: “Life drawing can be an important way for artists to hone their skills – but it can have a much wider impact, too. It can contribute to a mindful and relaxed state, reduce anxiety, improve problem-solving and encourage new perspectives. It’s also really fun.”

Anneka Rice interviewed Jonathan Yeo on The Radio 2 Arts Show just after the live event. He said: “The response [to #LifeDrawingLive] has been wonderful and enthusiastic from people who just didn’t think they’d have the opportunity to do that.

“Very few people get to study at the Royal Academy... and so there is a nice sense of people having access to something which they might not otherwise get. It’s a good use of social media.”

The clever old RA – there are certainly less pleasant ways to pick up an invaluable new skill for life.

April 2018