Thinking of going back to the drawing board? Or maybe you want to try your hand at being creative for the first time? A megalopolis like Tokyo offers countless online and in-person workshops on everything from still-life painting to ceramics. However, one particular online art class caught our eye. Tokyo-based artist Divya Marie Kato has opened a comprehensive school of online art classes, offering a free course for beginners called Divya’s Sketch Sesh.
Divya Marie Kato is a British artist and drawing teacher born in Paris to Indian parents who traveled all around the world before finally settling here in Japan 13 years ago. Here, she started her own business where she strives to empower people through creativity and drawing. Her 13 years of teaching and studying art has developed into a full program called When In Doubt, Draw. The course is the summation of everything she’s learned about drawing and creative living. Visit her drawing school, Atelier Kato, in Yoyogi, or sign up online, as I did.
I had no previous art experience but had a blast! It’s completely free — all you need is a paper, a pencil, and some coffee granules (don’t drink them). Her beginner series offers more advice on implementing art into your life rather than techniques (the first part of the course poses the question “What is it that makes us human?”), with encouraging videos along the way. First, you’ll dye paper with coffee to make a cave wall; the epicenter of all your art. Next, it’s time to get out of the cave and you’ll be instructed to move up to higher ground so you can start sketching some landscapes. Throughout the course, you can post your drawings on the course page and Divya will check your progress.
During the course, you’ll truly feel like you’re receiving a private lesson in Divya’s home — except in the third chapter of the course where you’ll be asked to head to the beach to draw waves. Some of the steps encourage music and collaboration, while some call for pensive alone-time. Divya also explains different framing techniques to bolster your new creations. I highly recommend newbies and seasoned artists alike to check out this program.
Diyva knows there is more to art than just what’s on the paper. “Eventually something clicked. I wasn’t teaching people just how to draw. I was helping them rediscover their creative selves,” she says. Divya holds drawing very close to her heart, believing it is the best way to understand others and oneself. Drawing influenced her formative years and helped her through some of the realities of growing up. She tells us, “For me, I found that, in a time full of doubt, drawing really helped me process everything that was going on. My sketchbook was a safe space for reflection.” Divya now wishes to impart this passion with the world.
“The way I teach drawing is not only about the skill itself. It’s about how I’ve come to understand and enjoy it, as more of a tool for life.”