A step-by-step guide for beginners to advanced painters with tips on how to achieve realistic looking people. By the end of the course you will have painted at least one portrait using acrylic paints. This 8-week course starts with focussing on drawing techniques, the dimensions of the human head and how to place the features. After creating detailed tonal drawings we will sketch out and begin to paint a tonal under-painting onto canvas. From there you will be shown how to build up subtle coloured paint layers to create realistic skin and hair tones and tips on how to go about painting realistic teeth and eyes. This course has plenty of time built in to explore your own personal style as well as appreciate and learn from others on the course.

NEXT COURSE: Planned for January 2018, please contact Kate if you are interested in being put on the waiting list.

COST: £240 for 8 classes of 3 hours (or £220 if you have done this course before)


Brief Course Outline

Week 1 - Observing and drawing the features - brain trickery, tonal drawings and placing the features on the head

Week 2 - Getting a likeness - ways to start a portrait, sketches from life versus drawing from a photo

Week 3 - Drawing onto canvas and starting tonal under-painting: consider background, lighting, composition, mood

Week 4 - Step-by-step skin tone painting, glazing, colour mixing

Week 5 - Eyes, lips and teeth - how to paint the most challenging bits of the face

Week 6 - Hair colour and how to paint hair both short and long

Week 7 - Colours to use in shadows and reflective light, working around the spectrum

Week 8 - Assessing the portrait as a whole and finishing off (or starting a new one!)


Materials List

Cartridge paper or sketchbook; acrylic paper and canvas boards (A4 minimum size); acrylic paints (basic colours ie. Cadmium Red, Crimson Red, Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, Titanium White and Mars Black plus Burnt Sienna, Paynes Grey and Flesh Tint * for more info on paints see Acrylics Course); mixing palette; a selection of hog hair and synthetic brushes to include a rigger (I particularly recommend Rosemary & Co. Please ask to see their catalogue and my selection of brushes); palette knives (optional); a board, table easel or easel; jars for water; HB, 2B, 4B and 6B pencils; charcoal (optional); long ruler; T-bar or set square; eraser; kitchen towel; protective clothing/apron; photos of people you would like to paint. Canvas boards will be available or bring your own canvas - you will only need drawing materials for the first two sessions when all you need for the remainder of the course will be explained.


A really well worth course to get started on portrait painting. Kate is a really patient teacher!
— Sue M
Such a challenging subject that really tests observation and concentration. Very enjoyable and rewarding.
— Sue B
Kate has a wonderful, gentle manner. Hugely informative and patient, I have learnt a lot and highly recommend the course.
— Louise H-W

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Student Galleries & Comments

Click on image or title to see a variety of students' work from each course


It is always a delight to be in Kate’s classes and sad when they come to an end - I just want them to go on and on. This course was no exception although at times it was challenging and a steep learning curve. Kate is both an extremely talented artist and a brilliant teacher. Her sense of humour, enthusiasm, encouragement, support (not to mention the cakes!) ensure we always have a wonderful time.
— Lesley S 2017
Brilliant from beginning to end. Interesting, informative, rewarding, enjoyable - will do it again!
— Sandra D 2017
Excellent!
— Teresa C 2017
I wanted to get to grips with acrylics, not understanding how to use them first time around. Learning about under-painting, scumbling and glazing has been important to me. I am still raw but think I have learned a lot. After 8 weeks I have produced a portrait of my daughter that I am proud to show my family.
— Heather G
A really enjoyable course that progressed everyone to produce a great portrait as an outcome.
— Lorraine S
You will be amazed how much you can achieve. Kate is so helpful and gives very good comments on your work and constructive ideas.
— Jenny B
I was a bit hesitant about this course as I am a complete beginner, not having used acrylics before or done any portrait painting. My progress has amazed me, thanks to Kate’s structured, patient and excellent tuition. At the end of six sessions I had produced two recognisable portraits on canvas and, more importantly, I cannot wait to do some more. Thank you Kate and well done, I now have a creative pastime that has opened new horizons and made me more aware of subtlety of colours and facial features.
— Marian W
I thought I might be able to produce a portrait but not a very good one. I think I have achieved much more with help from Kate. Kate you are an excellent tutor and I have learnt a great deal. I would, and have, recommended your art classes to others. Excellent value for money and cake too.
— Julie O
I have never attempted a portrait before so it was an achievement to do what I did even if is not perfect. A very enjoyable experience.
— Anne G
Pleased that I am able to give portraiture ‘a go’ on my own now.
— Marian N
Absolutely spot on. You get everyone to relax and then bring the best out of them.
— David W
Very good, easy to follow and encouraging. I am pleased with my development.
— Sally C