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An Upcycled Homeware Art Class with Harlie Briggs

From her bedroom in her family home where the walls are covered with art – comes an art lesson from one of our favourites, the lovely Harlie Briggs. She’s been giving new life to charity shop finds with her amazing art work, no household object safe from her paintbrush! Now she’s giving us some inside tips to recreate a few of her best pieces.

How did you start painting as your full-time job?

“I did psychology at uni and then did a post grad in teaching. I loved teaching and I loved children but it was never 100% what I wanted to do. I was a teacher for 3 years and I absolutely loved it. I then tried fashion PR for a year, which was super fun but it wasn’t for me. It was only last October when I went back into teaching but only part time. I’ve always loved art and it has been something I’ve always wanted to do but I always thought it’s not plausible; even my mum said I should just focus on my art but again I thought it wasn’t a ‘proper job’. I was then teaching part time and using my days off to paint. Every time I was working at school I would think, I wish painting was my full time job. I was teaching and painting for a while, then lockdown happened and now I’m just painting 24/7! It’s been crazy but it has made me realise this is what I want to do.”

Until recently, has painting always just been a hobby on the side?

“I did art GCSE and A-Level and I absolutely loved it. But it has always been a hobby. I picked painting back up in 2016 when I started painting the nudes, which is just so fun. After getting back into it on the side, everyday I would think I wish this was my job. Now I’m just trying to make that happen.”

How did you start painting nudes?

“It started with my closest friends sending me nude, which is just fabulous! It’s so nice that people trust me with them. I was really loving the female form and body positivity so some of my friends said ‘have my nudes to paint’ and I thought ‘wow this is fantastic’. I started painting them and then it became a bit of a thing. Other people began asking to send me their nudes, people I didn’t even know. People love seeing how the painting comes out. Now I get strangers sending me nudes, which I love. It’s so nice because everyone has a different body which means no painting is the same.”

How did you then move on to painting vases?

“I received a vase from my mum that I wasn’t too keen on. I was doing all these sketches and painting and I thought that vase could really do with a makeover. So I grabbed the vase, painted a nude on it and then suddenly everyone loved it! It did make the vase look a lot nicer and it’s good to use secondhand things rather than buying items new. You’re able to add your own touch to items around the house. After I posted a picture of the vase I received a message from someone asking to buy it. That’s how it all started. I started then drawing on really random items like tea pots, jugs, shirts. I’d love to paint on more different objects, who knows what the future holds.”

Now it’s time for you to have a go! Grab a vase, a teapot, a discarded wine bottle, an old flower pot or any items around your house that need a little sprucing up!  Keep in mind if you don’t have paint, permanent markers work as well.

First design – the perfect perky bum…

Step 1: Start off with a pencil or marker to sketch out your design onto your item of choice.

Step 2: To achieve the perfect perky bum shape start by drawing a smile slightly on a slant. From the highest point of the smile go about 2cm down from the top of the line and draw another slanted smile facing the opposite direction. These lines will form the shape of the bum.

Step 3: Where both the smile lines meet, draw another line down about 2 inches. Don’t worry about the line being straight because there are no straight edges on the female body.

Step 4: In the centre of the line of one of your smiles, go up and mark where the waist starts. You can go as far in or as far out as you’d like. Starting at the mark you made for the waist, draw a curved line down your vase, curving out where you’ve drawn the bum and curving back in after the bum to create the legs of the form. Repeat this step on the opposite side.

Step 5: Now taking whichever colour paint you desire, paint over the lines. If you have oil paint it will take a few days to dry, if you have acrylic paint it will only take a few hours to dry.


Next let’s try a bit of free styling – the female form…

Step 1: Taking your paintbrush, start by drawing a ‘U’ shape with one side a bit longer than the other.

Step 2: Mirror the ‘U’ shape on the opposite side, using  the 2 short sides of the ‘U’ shape in the centre. Make sure the lines don’t meet in the centre, this will create the boob shape of your drawing.

Step 3: In the centre of one of your ‘U’ shapes, draw a curved line down your vase to create the waist and hips of the female form. Repeat on the other side starting in the centre of the opposite ‘U’ shape.

Step 4: Half way down from where your 2 ‘U’ shapes meet draw a mark for the belly button, either a line or a dot.

Step 5: Just below the belly button draw a ‘V’. From the ‘V’ draw a line down so it is level with the curved lines of the waist and hips, this final line will create the legs of the form.

One-line face drawing – there’s no turning back!

Step 1: Using a pencil, starting with an oval shape for the eye. One big oval then one smaller oval inside and then an even smaller oval inside that oval to create the eye, iris and pupil.

Step 2: Remember to not take your pencil off your object to create the one-line affect. Start from the corner of the eye and draw your line down to create the nose, mouth, ear and other eye. No need to be perfect with this, the more unique the face looks the better.

Step 3: Finally take your paintbrush and paint over the lines you’ve drawn to finish your piece.

Be sure to share your creations with use on Instagram! And if you need more inspiration for your drawings check out Harlie’s Instagram @harliebriggsart Don’t forget to support your local artists in these uncertain times through the  artist support pledge at