Realistic drawing is a learnable skill. Everyone can drastically improve their drawing skills with proper instruction and practice.

What is Drawing Decoded?

How does one learn to draw?

Where do you start? What do you practice? How do you practice it? In what order? And for how long?

Drawing Decoded will answer these very questions!

Starting November 15, I will be adding monthly lessons to a drawing curriculum designed to take you from ‘never having drawn before’ to ‘freely and enjoyably drawing what you see.'

The lessons are pre-recorded, so you can work through them at your own pace.

Let's take the guesswork out of what to do or practice next so that you can focus on the lessons and on your improvement.

Build the necessary foundational skills, techniques and knowledge to confidently face advanced drawing subjects like the figure and portrait.

My drawing improvement from 2007 to 2010

Let's Get Started!


Monthly Membership - US Dollars

This is a subscription billed in US Dollars on a monthly basis until you cancel. Cancel anytime from the account management page.

This is a subscription product billed on a monthly basis until you cancel. Cancel anytime from the account management page.

Let's take the guesswork out of learning to draw with a clear, easy to follow, step-by-step curriculum!

Drawing Decoded streamlines the process of learning how to draw.

Avoid overwhelm with easy-to-follow, step-by-step video lessons and a clear curriculum

Watch detailed drawing demonstrations

Practice several drawing exercises added monthly (at least 30 minutes of lessons)

Animations simplify and clarify drawing concepts and techniques

Stop guessing what to do or practice next

Follow along as I prepare my next immersive drawing installation!

From Frustration to Clarity, Enjoyment and Improved Drawings

A common scenario often occurs when students first start drawing.

They begin with the portrait or figure, quickly start thinking:

“I haven’t a clue where to start.

This is looking terrrrible.

I’m no good at this – drawing must only be for those with innate talent and creativity.

I’ll never be able to do this.”

Aaand that’s the end of that, most unfortunately. However ...

What’s often not mentioned to beginners is how advanced portrait and figure drawing actually is!

I’ve recently started using this analogy:

Jumping into portrait drawing as a complete beginner is like walking into the gym for the first time and trying to deadlift 300 pounds.

An example of my drawing improvement over the years. I've been where you are in your drawing journey!

Even if you don’t go to the gym, it makes sense that you would spend considerable time developing your strength and proper lifting technique, slowly progressing from a lighter weight to a progressively heavier one before trying to deadlift 300 pounds, right?

Well … drawing is similar!

To successfully draw a realistic portrait or figure (both advanced, ‘heavy-weight’ subject matters), foundational skills and knowledge need to be developed first. For example, knowledge of the drawing process and how to move through it efficiently, drawing technique, essential drawing concepts, not to mention the construction and anatomy of the figure and portrait, to name a few.

So, if you haven’t drawn much before and find yourself attempting a portrait, it makes sense why thoughts such as, “This is impossible. Drawing must only be for those with innate talent,” might creep in!

If you have ever felt that discouragement, I’m sorry that nobody told you that you were metaphorically trying to deadlift 300 pounds!

I’m (now!) here to tell you that you’re simply missing some of the foundational knowledge and skills that will make portrait drawing not only possible, but enjoyable.

Let's get started!

This membership is for you if ...

You are a beginner looking to start drawing (‘nervous beginners’ are most welcome!)

You sometimes think, “I can’t draw," or "I have no artistic talent," but still want to draw!

You want to learn realistic (representational) drawing specifically

You have some drawing experience, but your drawings don’t quite resemble your drawing subjects. You want to fill in some of the gaps in your foundational drawing knowledge, and refine your skills.

You enjoy my teaching and/or drawing style
You would happily put in the necessary hours of practice if only someone would tell you what and how to practice!

The Curriculum

In Month 1 (November 2021) we will focus on developing dexterity and control of our drawing tools. By practicing 'Daily Drawing Drills' you will discover what your supplies can do, learn how to prepare them, manipulate them, and improve your technical skills.

In Month 2 (December 2021), we will start drawing Bargue copies, which will allow us to practice our new technical skills while also training our eye to see and measure shapes and proportions accurately. We will begin with simpler Bargue copies, and work up to advanced ones such as the one pictured below by Month 5 or 6.

(Not sure what Bargue drawing is? Read about it in the FAQ at the bottom of the page!)

Who You'll Be Learning From

Hi there! My name is Marina Fridman.

I'm a professional visual artist, educator, and author of The Drawing Source.

In my own creative practice I create 'drawing installations': large-scale drawings that transform a space, such as the one below (yes, entirely hand-drawn using charcoal on white paper!)

I'm currently working on a new immersive, hand-drawn installation similar to the one below for an upcoming exhibition, and will be vlogging (video logging) the process inside the Drawing Decoded Membership!

About Marina

Marina Fridman is a visual artist, educator, and author (or Drawing Source'ress!) of The Drawing Source.

As an educator of visual arts, Marina taught as a Tenure-Track Instructor at Grande Prairie Regional College in Alberta, Canada before leaving to focus on developing The Drawing Source. She immensely enjoys distilling complex drawing concepts into steps that are easy to understand and put into practice, and considers herself successful when her students increase both their skills and their enjoyment of the drawing process.

Marina holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture and Dimensional Studies from Alfred University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She is a three-time recipient of the prestigious Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant, a Canada Council for the Arts Grant in 2020, the Manifest ONE Prize in 2019, and an Honorable Mention in the International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award in 2018.

She has been awarded residencies at MacDowell, the I-Park Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, the League Residency at Vyt, the Creative Practices Institute, the Manifest Gallery, the Boreal Electroacoustic Music Society (BEAMS) Residency in Estonia, and the invitational ArtBnB Jerusalem Residency.

Marina’s work has been published by Hi-Fructose Magazine (online), Booooooom, Art in America, ACS Magazine, Drawing Discourse, the Manifest International Drawing Annual, Foundations of Drawing (Random House), North Light Books' Art Journey, and Strokes of Genius, to name a few. Her works have been exhibited and collected in the US, Canada, and Israel.

My Students' Drawings

By Faith S.

(Detail of charcoal drawing)

By Matthew S.

(Detail of charcoal drawing)

By Brittany C.

(Detail of charcoal drawing)

Student Testimonials

“Like a lot of us rookies, I've looked at all kinds of "sources" and "tips" and YouTube demonstrations but never have I seen a better presentation or had a more meaningful learning experience than your course(s).” -Jeff M. (about the Drawing Critique Group)

“Where Marina really excels is knowing what “step by step” really means.” -Nancy S. (about one-on-one sessions)

"I am so glad that I stumbled upon The Drawing Source while looking for some material to learn about drawing. Marina is an amazing trainer who is not only a super duper expert in her skills but also has an amazing quality in sharing and imparting this skill through her precise, clear and effective training videos. This can really get anyone started quickly. What I liked the most is that you can reach out to her for your queries and inputs and get prompt and constructive feedback. I have and will recommend her courses/training anytime. I have learned and enjoyed it so much. I can go on and on but you really have to sign up to experience it yourself." -Anjana G. (about Realistic Drawing 101)

Get Started Now!


Monthly Membership - US Dollars

This is a subscription billed in US Dollars on a monthly basis until you cancel. Cancel anytime from the account management page.

This is a subscription product billed on a monthly basis until you cancel. Cancel anytime from the account management page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this only for beginners?

The first several months are geared towards:

  • beginners
  • students with drawing experience who want to fill in some gaps in their drawing knowledge or skills
  • students who are interested in Bargue drawing (more on this below)

​The lessons will gradually become more advanced, building on the previous ones.


What is the time commitment?

You are welcome to work through the lessons at your own pace.

However, every month I will suggest a certain amount of practice, always providing different options as we all have different ‘bandwidths’ (time, energy and desire).

The weekly time commitment that I suggest may vary depending on what we are working on that month. For example, in the first month I suggest repeating the suggested exercises at least twice or three times per week (for a minimum of 15 minutes to a half hour), and if one has the time, energy, and desire to add a few extra days or lengthen practice time – fantastic.

In future months, I may suggest that you complete a certain number of drawings, but again – you are free to take your time and work at your own pace.

What is Bargue drawing?

The Charles Bargue drawing method involves drawing from prints of plaster casts. It is a very methodical exercise that allows students to learn the stages of the drawing process, methods of measurement, to train their eye and perceptual skills, and to control their pencil.

It’s particularly excellent if you are a nervous beginner (or think that you can’t learn to draw!) as it is much less intimidating to draw 'from the flat' (from a copy) than from life when first getting started.

However, because Bargue drawing is a tool for honing one’s eye and shading/rendering abilities, it’s a great exercise for intermediate students as well.

Will we only be drawing Bargue copies?

Not at all! We are going to use Bargue drawing as an exercise to introduce various drawing concepts and techniques.

We will then transition to drawing from life, which should be considerably easier once we have developed a more sensitive eye, learned various methods of measurement, and are comfortable with our drawing tools and techniques.

Can I ask questions inside the Membership?

Yes! Especially as the founding members of this new program, I welcome your questions, comments and feedback.

My designated ‘question-answering’ day will be every Friday. Depending on how many questions there are, I may not be able to answer each one individually (The Drawing Source is a one-woman operation!) However, if this is the case, I will make a video addressing the general trends in the questions.

What is the cancellation policy?

You can cancel at any time.

Let's Get Started!


Monthly Membership - US Dollars

This is a subscription billed in US Dollars on a monthly basis until you cancel. Cancel anytime from the account management page.

This is a subscription product billed on a monthly basis until you cancel. Cancel anytime from the account management page.