Student Stories: Poppy Chancellor, The Drawing Year

Feb. 24, 2017
Poppy Chancellor graduated from The Drawing Year in 2010, and has since joined the School's Faculty, and published the papercutting book CUT IT OUT. Here she recalls her experiences of the postgraduate course, and how it helped her develop her practice...

I heard about The Drawing Year through my dad. A year of drawing? It sounded too good to be true! I had recently graduated from art school with no plans after graduating so I decided to throw myself into preparing an application.

I came to the Royal Drawing School in 2009, the same year I graduated. I was still finding my feet creatively and found Fresher’s week a wake- up call. After being dropped in the deep end, I was suddenly worried I wasn’t good enough and was convinced I’d forgotten how to draw. Once we’d had a look through everyone’s work I suddenly felt in love with what I saw. The variation of marks and diversity of approach relaxed me. I realised I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that was a huge relief.

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Soon after meeting my fellow students, I knew I was in good company. Their work inspired my experimentation and the tutors encouraged us along the way. I worked in collage, charcoal, inks and loved the printmaking studio. Not being afraid to make mistakes and actually being encouraged to do so allowed me to find joy in imperfection. Something I’d found hard at art school. I always wanted to get it ‘right.’ I started to see how much that could hold you back.

I found drawing exhausted and exhilarating. I came home tired everyday, still wanting to start classes early and go to lectures in the evening. It became a world of obsessive learning. I would go to galleries I’d never stepped foot in before and know the layout after a few days of sketching with tutors.

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Through the daily life drawing I got to understand the human figure on a deeper level, allowing my work from memory and imagination to flourish. I saw how the body worked and shifted and I started to understand how to draw it.

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Since leaving the Royal Drawing School, my illustrative work has developed through having a profound understanding of observational drawing. I still have the joy of experimentation whilst refining and simplifying my process. I use papercutting to restrict my marks, allowing them to become graphic and arresting.

Working as a tutor on the Young Artists Programme was a huge part of my development. Seeing the vitality and freedom that young artists have, you can’t help but want to join in. The discussions, sharing and development of these lessons allowed me to develop my own papercutting workshops, which I have now lead for the past 5 years.

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Working commercially with brands has allowed my work to take many different forms, from chandeliers to shoe boxes. The desire to experiment with scale and material was instilled by the Drawing School and is part of a thought process that continues to develop.

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Poppy’s first book ‘Cut it Out: 30 Designs to Cut Out and Keep’ was published by Ebury in August 2016 and she has a second book on the way. www.poppyspapercuts.com

Head over to the @RoyalDrawingSchool Instagram to see Poppy's #RDSTakeover! www.instagram.com/royaldrawingschool