Ian Murphy's CPD Art Teacher Workshop
Drawing and Mixed Media

Drawing and Mixed Media Workshop Structure


The day begins with Ian Murphy’s introduction into his philosophy on drawing: the importance of the observation process; how he inspires students to improve their selection process; and, as a consequence, create better visual decisions in their sketchbook or journal. He illustrates these strategies with a shared scrutiny of his sketchbooks and the breadth of work (both finished and still in the process of being developed) that he brings to every course. This is very much a sharing experience: everyone is welcome to input into the introduction, allowing the focus of Ian Murphy’s opinions to have a relevance to you and your students. This will also be the beginning of your opportunities to photograph the artwork to ensure you leave with every viewpoint, opinion and idea fully illustrated to share with your colleagues.

Straight into practical development

Ian Murphy’s workshops are notoriously very fast-paced: designed to get the most out of the day(s), allowing you to discover, and experience, more of the techniques and ideas that he uses with students and everyday in his studio.

Ian Murphy working on location,
Ian Murphy working on location, showing students how to best select their compositions

Part 1: The morning session
Creating a fantastic sketchbook

Focus: Small scale drawing embracing the layering process.

Ian Murphy sees the sketchbook as a constant companion, not only to hold his initial sketches but also as a place to start the experimental mark-making development. His sketchbooks are the ‘go to’ reference point for every creative decision Ian Murphy makes, whether it be layout and design, collage, colour or scale. The morning session is dedicated to sharing all the strategies he uses that can be housed in the sketchbook format, or folder/workbook system used in other schools and colleges.

Every drawing has a focus

The first practical session is dedicated to small scale decision making: the initial sketches and designs that are paramount to ensuring we all create good compositions, using the best viewpoints to come up with the best ideas.
How do students know what makes a good drawing?

How to make the most of the drawing surface

Textured surfacesThroughout the morning session you will be challenged to make multiple textured surfaces which will be the foundations of the layering process and provide the initial starting points to the sketchbook techniques. Students often need the tactile layer as a stimulus to their drawing idea; the blank, white page in the sketchbook can actually inhibit many students. Each surface will then be the catalyst for the visual idea, allowing the compositional ideas to grow and flourish as a consequence of rhythms, movement and texture underneath.

Part 2

How to get students to work to, and beyond, their potential

Improve their visual language

During a school workshop Ian Murphy works on the principal that ‘every new drawing has the potential to be the best piece of work a student has ever produced’.

This frequently becomes the case with the next drawing the student produces during the workshop, regardless of ability. The reason, because the drawing will have a clear focus and have been developed after Ian Murphy has shared a new range of marks and techniques to use. This he describes as a broadening of their visual language.

Throughout the morning session, each new drawing challenge will seek to extend your current practice, and also reinforce new methods and techniques, with the constant aim of extending your visual language. These processes are founded on the formal elements of art but are delivered to be energetic, exploratory and, just as importantly, enjoyable; an underestimated principle in art education. Ian Murphy thrives on the creative energy that you find in a studio environment, something that goes a long way to help students fully embrace the risk taking that is critical in art.

Students Drawing Marks

Discovering the best visual language and annotating it

The layering processOnce the layering process, both with collage and drawn marks, is fully established, our aim is to rationalise the learning process.

Why Annotate?

and how to make it relevant, yet concise

Factual information is a great starting point, it reinforces the practical developments and builds an understanding of how a drawing was created.
However, the important criteria will to be logged as a subjective note – why did it work well, or, try to describe the surface and the kind of mark used e.g. sombre, moody, dramatic, bold, distinctive. These are all words which have been used to describe Ian Murphy’s work; all are concise, but positively accurate, and form part of a critical understanding that depicts his work. Our aim is to get a descriptive language that endorses opinions whilst, at the same time, articulates the development process and, critically, is achievable by all.

Ian Murphy sketchbook pages

Text and descriptive language; building it into the drawing.

Ian Murphy has, for years, found artistic ways to bring the written word into the surface of his drawings and paintings. An integral part of his research into the locations he visits, this practice allows the viewer to discover a sense of the narrative behind his work whilst embracing another beautifully aesthetic layer.
This element of the course will bring together the exploratory marks, the tactile layers and the language used in the annotation task. Making the annotation part of the creative process will allow the students to embrace the artistic value rather than seeing it as a grammatical chore.

Using Text in drawings
Close up sections of Ian Murphy’s drawings
Close up sections of Ian Murphy’s drawings


Ian Murphy’s mantra INSPIRE CHALLENGE SUPPORT is derived from his focus of being an Artist and Educator. The vast array of sketchbooks, drawings and paintings that he brings along to every workshop provides the INSPIRATIONAL facet, whilst the artistic CHALLENGES are very much evident throughout the day as he pushes new levels of understanding. And finally, the all important SUPPORT feature is taken care of with the online tutorials which provide everyone with 24/7 access to all the amazing techniques and processes that Ian Murphy uses everyday in his studio.

“I always want the drawing process to be a journey of discovery, and feel that working on a large scale really allows the sense of expression to be prominent.”

Ian Murphy working on a large scale

Part 3: The afternoon session

Expanding our use of materials and moving into larger scale decisions

The development element of the CPD drawing course is designed to mimic the students move towards the end of a unit, whether coursework or exam, by resolving all the ideas to create a finished product. Embracing the need to move out of the sketchbook or journal, the primary focus is to increase scale and calculate the best compositional layout.

Creating an identity in the artwork

The development of the drawing will move at a very fast pace, taking on board a structured tonal layout with a focus to create and resolve a light source within the image. The visual language of drawing explored in the morning session will now be utilised and brought to fruition in the larger scale format. Ian Murphy will encourage you to personalise the marks, surfaces and approach to the drawing, challenging you to consider such things as expression, gesture, mood and identity.

Plenary and Q & A

Throughout the day, Ian Murphy will encourage you to discuss and share your experiences. His aim is to impart as much knowledge and demonstrate as many techniques as possible to you, but he is aware that these need to have a focus relevant to your everyday practice. The conclusion to the course gives you time to reflect, the opportunity to ask any questions that may have materialised during the day, and offer you the chance to discuss potential strategies going forward. Every technique is fully documented for you to take away; this not only endorses the day’s activity, but also provides you with the all important reference point when collaborating with colleagues and students.

Teachers developing their large scale studies

Teachers developing their large scale studies

CPD course for art teachers

Mixed Media and Surface texture

Applying extra layers of mixed media and developing more textures will happen as the afternoon progresses, with each new material giving you the opportunity to further push the boundaries of traditional drawing and painting.

With no set conclusion in mind Ian Murphy is keen for each individual teacher to extend their ideas to best suit their skill set and creative direction.

‘I always want teachers to take ownership of the course and push all the techniques into a format or image that challenges their understanding of mixed media. The aim is to hopefully inspire everyone to embrace my experimental approach to drawing and painting, and successfully create a large range of new work for everybody to take back and share with their students.

In fact, it can often be very difficult stopping teachers from using all the materials in one go, such is their thirst for knowledge and enthusiasm to try out new approaches’

Mixed Media and Surface Texture
Ian Murphy's Mixed Media and Surface Texture

Mixed Media materials including such things as

  • Coloured Inks
  • Filler
  • Paint: Oil and Acrylic
  • Rice Paper
  • Studio Gum
  • Varnish: Oil and acrylic

  • Impasto Gel
  • Parchment
  • Graphite powder
  • Scrim
  • Turpentine
  • Wax

St Columba's School - CPD Drawing and Mixed Media workshop for teachers

One Day, Drawing and Mixed Media Workshop
Saturday 25th November 2017
St Columba’s School, Kilmacolm

All materials, equipment, visual source material and documentation will be provided.
You will also receive a 12 month licence to Ian Murphy’s Online Tutorials


What Other Teachers Said

Wonderful, Amazing, Fantastic, Inspiring… As a teacher of 17yrs it is refreshing to attend a course of such high content and delivery. I will use every minute of the workshop back at school and it has the added benefit of inspiring the teacher as an artist themselves.
K. Johnson

Everything – all was such an insight and usable for exam and KS3.
Loved it! So important to do it yourself as you remember more. Very fast paced! Learnt a lot, very keen to try the techniques out on the kids as school.
L. McGrath

This gave me a clear outline and structure for supporting the development of students observational drawing techniques. Hands on is great, but seeing sketchbooks and examples of artwork really brings the course to life.
S. Huson

Absolutely fantastic day. Brilliant structure, course content and resources. The food was outstanding, thank you for catering for my gluten free allergy. Work, people, facilities were perfect, I have enjoyed it so much.
S. Trott

Really lovely atmosphere, Ian is very friendly and helpful.
C. Siswick

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Free gift for teachers!

Creating Great Sketchbooks

7 ideas I use in my sketchbook drawing when I am on location
I always stress the importance of my sketchbook to my creative practice - it is my constant companion whenever I travel, and it provides me the best solution to record the environment around me. I have always drawn in a sketchbook, its second nature to me, and it is one of the main things that students love to look through during my workshops. The downloadable booklet will give you an insight into the creative strategies I use when I draw in my books and hopefully it will provide you with a substantial aid to share with your students.
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Creating Great Sketchbooks

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