Uncommon Therapy
Uncommon Therapy

OLLI Drawing Class


Handouts and cartoons can be found by clicking the buttons below or the tabs on the left-side menu.  Information for students joining the class is found below the buttons.




This class is a continuation class for anyone who haas taken any or all of the previous drawing classes.  We will continue to get practice doing quick sketches, learn new techniques, review and expand our knowledge of composition, and generally just have fun continuing to become more skilled at drawing.


Oct 21-Nov 11 Fridays 10:30-11:45 AM

  1. More information about the course
  2. Instructions and materials list for students who did not take the first installment of the course last Spring

1)  A bit more explanation about the course:

Learning to draw is, more than anything else, learning to shut down the part of our brain that substitutes a concept or representation of a thing for what the thing actually is.


 During childhood we learn how to generalize out categories of things: every tree looks different – how do we come up with a general concept of what a tree is?  Eventually we decide on a particular shape, color, texture, etc. and this becomes what “tree” means.  Now if we are asked to “draw a tree” we will draw this concept of a tree, not a real tree.


Mostly this is a extremely helpful for us – it allows us to be much more efficient in thinking about things.  It makes it easier to communicate with others.  It makes the world more manageable.


This process becomes so ingrained over the years that by the age of 10 or 12 onward we start to SEE things not as they really are, but as the concepts we have say they are.  The concept essentially over-rides our actual perceptions, in all or in part.  In a way we see what we expect to see – but more, we don’t see what differs from what we expect to see.  This applies to EVERYTHING in our lives, but it is really obvious when it comes to drawing.  Our drawings usually become cartoonish and clearly not real. Usually it is around these ages that most people decide they “aren’t good at drawing” and give it up.


In order to once again see things as they really are, we have to block our brains from automatically substituting our concepts of reality for the reality itself.  This is surprisingly hard to do  -- unless we start by using some fairly simple tricks to turn that part of our brain off.


That’s what this course will teach you how to do.


Some of the tricks are things like not NAMING what we are drawing, turning things upside-down so that they don’t look like things we expect to see, focusing on the space around the thing instead of the thing itself, using a “picture plane”, and others.  The book by Betty Edwards provides many excellent techniques, and great exercises on using them.


Almost everyone is surprised to discover how well he or she can draw simply by relearning how to see things as they are, not as our brains have conceptualized them. 

This second part of the course will review the basic skills that were previously covered and give everyone more practice at using them. 


It will then go on to add some basic understanding and skill-building of the things that make a drawing look more three-dimensional: shading, perspective, and composition.



To catch up with those who took the class last Spring you will need to do the following:


1) Buy or borrow the following materials:

  • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, 4th Edition by Betty Edwards.  It is important that you get the 4th Edition published in 2012, not an earlier version.
    • List price is $19.95.  As of this writing it is available on Amazon.com for $14.69 new or $7.93 used.  Also on Kindle for $14.99.
  • The Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook, 2nd Edition, also by Betty Edwards and also published in 2012.
    • List price is $19.95.  As of this writing it is available on Amazon.com for $13.15 new or $8.06 used.


(NOTE: If you are really strapped for cash, you can skip buying the workbook and just do the exercises as they are laid out in chapters 1-7 of the book.  I recommend the workbook because it will make learning the techniques much easier, and it contains a “picture pane” so you don’t have to make one up yourself.)


  • Royal & Lagnickel Essentials Sketching Pencil Set, 21 Piece
    • Available on Amazon.com for $5.97 new
  • A pad of drawing paper – preferably about 9 inches by 12 inches and at least 30 sheets. 

This doesn’t have to be the expensive stuff – Walmart or Fred Meyer quality is fine, but you can get nicer if you want.Cost will be $5 and up depending on the quality you choose.

2) Try using the different pencils and drawing tools to get a sense of how they lay down marks on the paper, and to determine which one or ones feel best to you to draw with.


3) Read chapters 1-7 of the book, and do the exercises in Part I and Part II of the workbook.  The two go together – generally the exercises in the book are the same as in the workbook, the workbook just makes them easier to see and do.




The exercises themselves will take, per the workbook’s instructions, about 8 ½ hours to complete.  You’ll also need to read the chapters in the book. So give yourself enough time before the first class to get this done.


Do NOT worry if this doesn’t come together as well as you want – it will be harder to do this on your own than in class.  I will help you catch up when the class starts up.  Also, the first session of the class will be a review of these techniques.


If you have questions BEFORE class starts as you are doing the exercises alone, you can email me at uncommon.alaska@gmail.com and I will answer your questions by return email or by phone (so be sure to leave me a phone number in the email so I can call you).


See you in October!





Larry Moen, LPC

Where to Find Me

Uncommon Therapy

565 University Avenue

Fairbanks, AK 99701 



(907) 459-8200

Office: (907) 374-8777

Text: (907) 388-8963

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Email: uncommon.alaska@gmail.com



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