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Portrait Painting (intensive)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

This course enables students to develop a personal approach to all aspects of portraiture through drawing and painting techniques. Working directly from models students will use a range of approaches to expand skills and techniques to produce dynamic and arresting portraits and head studies. A range of materials may be used incorporating drawing, oil-based and water-based media and students will consider the historical and contemporary context of the portrait in visual culture.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Some drawing and painting experience desirable

Special Infomation


Materials and equipment provided for students as part of the course and included in course fee:
  • Easels and drawing boards
  • Tables and chairs
  • models to paint from
  • studio set ups

Materials and equipment available for purchase during the course: Estimated cost: £10 - £20 depending on usage

  • primed boards for painting on
  • Essential Materials and equipment students will need to provide themselves: Estimated cost: £20 - £40 depending on usage.

    • a range of cartridge drawing papers
    • willow charcoal
    • eraser
    • fixative
    • range of pencils
    • range of brushes
    • a range of acrylic paints; (suggested colours: white, cadmium red, crimson, cerulean blue, ultramarine, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, viridian green, raw umber)
    • masking tape
    • Chalk pastels
    • Black ink
    • graphite powder
    • colourless oil bar
    • A4/A3 sketch book
    • craft knife
    • Block printing ink
    • white acrylic paint
    • sponges
    • rags

    Content of Course

    The course will comprise of an intensive 5 day teaching block followed by a period of independent study in the students own time.

    Class hours:
    • Day 1; Morning: Introduction to studio practices for portraiture. A series of introductory ‘warm up’ drawing and painting exercises working from models. Afternoon: Start two day pose with male model considering composition and structure and ways to look at the source.
    • Day 2; Continuation of day 1 model pose. Building up paint, texture and detail to make adjustments and examine anatomical structure.
    • Day 3: One day pose with female model. Creating quicker looser studies.
    • Days 4 and 5; One pose over 2 days to develop surface, texture, brushwork, consider skin tones and create mood. Students may work on one concentrated painting or work on a series of looser studies from a range of angles.

    Directed and Independent study: Students will be required to follow up and reflect on their learning from the classes through the completion of directed projects and their own independent study.

    Teaching method(s)

    The teaching will be based and delivered in specialist art and design studios or workshops and will typically include a range of practical exercises, introductions to techniques, processes and concepts, and set projects which lead to more focused and personal exploration. Over the five days, students’ progress will be monitored and supported by the tutor. Teaching will include practical demonstrations, one to one tuition, group discussions and critiques.

    For work required to be undertaken after the class hours are complete, the course tutor will set students a ‘directed study plan’ which can be undertaken without the need for specialist workshops or access to models.

    Directed study will include research into a range of suggested artists or designers and their associated movements to engender a contextual awareness of portraiture in visual culture. Students will be expected to demonstrate how the research has informed their work through annotated sketchbooks or visual journals and practical outcomes. The Directed Study Plan will include preparing evidence of research and practical work to form an appropriate presentation for assessment.

    Learning outcomes

    On completion of this course through class hours, directed and independent study, students will be able to;


  • use a visual sketchbook/journal to research, record and reflect on an increased understanding of the proportion, form and anatomy of the human head and accurately translate them through painting

  • demonstrate enhanced skills in working with a range of painting materials to explore the form of the human head within a compositional framework

  • select, edit and present a coherent body of visual studies, drawings and mixed media works which demonstrate an informed and individual response to the portrait as subject matter
  • Transferable skills

    • Observational drawing skills in a range of media
    • Understanding of the structure, form and anatomy of the human figure
    • Ability to undertake research and reflective practice and apply these in the context of portraiture within visual culture.


    Core Readings

    Marsh, R., 1970, Anatomy for artists, London: Dover
    Wolff, E., 1958, Anatomy for artists, 4th ed., London: H K Lewis

    Web Sources

    Web sources may be provided during the course

    Class Handouts

    Course information will be provided on enrolment and handouts provided during the course.


    All practice-based art and design 10 credit courses are assessed by the submission of a portfolio of visual art and/or design works within the discipline studied. This will include a selection of resolved art and/or design works, preparatory studies, visual research and evidence of a contextual awareness through a completed sketchbook and/or visual journal. The work must be presented in a clear and professional manner appropriate to the discipline. The submission should include work undertaken within the class as well as directed and independent study out with the class. Typically, this will comprise:

    • Class Contact hours: 27.5 (work you do during the class)
    • Directed hours: 27.5 (work your tutor has set for you to do each week in your own time)
    • Independent Study Hours: 45 (work you set yourself to do, relevant to the discipline studied)

    The combined submission will be assessed against the three learning outcomes for this course. These are equally weighted and each will be given a percentage grade. To pass, you must achieve a minimum of 30% in each learning outcome and an overall combined mark of 40% minimum.

    Studying for Credit

    If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.

    Student support

    Please contact Art and Design Studies on 0131 650 4400 if you think you have any specific study requirements that may need to be put in place to enable you to study an Art and Design Studies course. Giving us this information will enable us to make arrangements to meet your requirements for studying in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.