Academic Special Events

Surval's Art Masterclass:  Fashion and Design

18 February 2021

New this term, our Surval Masterclass series is nurturing students’ passions and interests as well as discovering new talents and flair.  This week’s Art Masterclass focused on Fashion and Design.  Visiting Artist Elise Buddle (‘accompanied’ by an online model) inspired us all with her fun, interactive, informative and highly creative sessions, showing our girls how to draw and dress figures and how to make the biggest impact when doing so.


With a PGCE from Cambridge University, Elise has taught Art and Design in international schools in the UK, the UAE and Switzerland. Elise is highly skilled in a variety of techniques including Printmaking, Drawing, 3D Art and Art History; herself a painter, sculptor and installation/performance artist (which she also teaches). We were delighted and grateful Elise was able to join us for this very special Masterclass. 


Starting the Masterclass warming up both hands and minds, we had to draw from a photo using both hands before drawing two photos, one with each hand. Getting both hands to draw different lines at the same time proved very tricky! These exercises awoke our hand muscles and thoughts.

The next task was to draw a portrait of Brigitte Bardot with only squiggles; the more defined the object, the tighter the squiggles.  So eyes and eyebrows were very tight squiggles, then defining the shape of the image with confident lines showed us how fashion images need to be drawn: fashion design is all about confident lines.     

Introducing Rosie, the online live model, Elise was able to demonstrate how to illustrate shape, material and form.  We could choose to either create organic shapes that would change the form of the model’s figure (such as balloons), or to use shapes that compliment the figure (such as shoulder pads).

Elise explained how material is very fluid, emphasising movement, so drawings have to pull in the clothing lines. The pose, the material, the way it is captured creates movement in your drawing, photograph or painting.

We explored how Vogue photographer Tim Walker tells a story; it’s not just the figure or clothes, it’s also the scene, making the model relevant. Playing with line and form, the surrounding objects and colours compliment the model’s outfit.

When it was our turn to draw our model, we started with the foundation of the figure, deciding whether to compliment or change its shape. Rosie was our muse, using huge pompoms to illustrate an unusual shape for us to sketch, Tim Walker style. We used triangular shapes, joints and then with softer lines drew the clothing around our figure, concentrating on whether the shapes of Rosie’s outfit were organic or complimentary. Following the principle that fashion design is not only about the model but also the background and the story, we focused on Rosie’s surrounds, her orange pillows that matched her orange curtains; the shape of the plate on the wall behind her which complimented her face shape.

The end results from these 90-minute workshops were remarkable!  All of our students, from Foundation Year to Swiss Gap, whether interested in Fashion Design as a possible career choice or not, found the Masterclass captivating, producing thoughtful and impressive drawings.  

Elise commented how she enjoyed hosting the sessions, “It was wonderful to see everyone’s personal style and the enthusiasm they had for Fashion and Design”.

And from the girls’ perspective?

Layla (Grade 11, Switzerland) described the Masterclass as “fun and different”, finding the most inspiring aspect of the session, “seeing Elise’s art and being able to use a live model”.

 Regina (Grade 9, Mexico) fedback after the session that she would like to explore in more depth “drawing with live models and fashion related things”, and Layla commented similarly, “how to draw a body or hands, feet etc”

When asked about the impact of the Art Masterclass, Vicky (Grade 8, England)  replied

“Yes, it changed how I see Art - it’s not just painting and drawing it’s also clothes and more - and that there’s more to clothes and fashion, how they’re designed. I really enjoyed it!”

Transformational experiences – that’s exactly what Surval Masterclasses (and indeed the Surval Experience!) are all about!