Life painting & portraiture

Life Painting & Portraiture — Courses Online & In London

If you’ve tried life drawing then developing a figure or portrait painting from life is the next exciting step. On these painting courses, students will be looking at artists, both historic and modern, who have mastered the genre to inspire and develop confidence in handling paint. Beginners will follow a structured course to build skills in life painting including structure and volume of the head and body and how to mix naturalistic skin tones.

Taught in our bright, open and modern Life and Portraiture studios, you’ll work from a variety of life models and poses to develop confidence whilst exploring the relationship between the artist and subject. If you wish to develop and build a larger portfolio of life and portraiture related works, have a look at our Year of figure and portraits course.

Courses available both in-person and online

At City Lit, you can choose to study in-person or online. Our fantastic in-person courses are taught in our attractive campus, located in the heart of Covent Garden, central London. Here, our students can benefit from a variety of services and resources, including our café and state-of-the art equipment.

Our online courses are tailored to give you a social and interactive online learning experience, allowing you freedom to study from anywhere and with like-minded fellow classmates from all over the country without the need to travel. Use the Location filters on this page to choose your preferred learning method. See our guide to online learning for more information about accessing our live online courses.

To arrange a conversation with our life and portraiture coordinator about your interests, options and courses available, please contact our Visual Arts team at

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  1. Life painting for beginners
    Course start date:  Mon 8 Jan 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Tony Hull
    This short course is a great introduction to painting directly from the nude model. Using simple projects, you will

    explore different ways to represent the human form in paint, with encouraging, helpful guidance from an experienced tutor. Suitable for absolute beginners.
    Full fee £279.00 Senior fee £223.00 Concession £181.00
  2. Painting: mixing tones for portraiture
    Course start date:  Thu 1 Feb 2024 (and 1 other date)

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Kim Scouller
    This course will teach you the skills you need to paint naturalistic skin tones when working from life which will make your figure and portrait paintings more convincing.
    Full fee £189.00 Senior fee £151.00 Concession £123.00
  3. Life painting: experimental approaches
    Course start date:  Thu 15 Feb 2024 (and 1 other date)

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Amanda Bracken
    Explore imaginative, dynamic approaches to painting the figure using a variety of approaches: be inspired by new ways of seeing and access innovative ways of approaching your life painting.
    Full fee £239.00
  4. Life painting: a contemporary approach
    Course start date:  Thu 29 Feb 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Steve Wright
    This course introduces contemporary contexts for life painting using acrylic paints to explore different creative approaches using the imagination alongside observation of the model. Suitable for all levels but some previous life drawing experience an advantage.
    Full fee £239.00
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  5. Artists eye: painting portraits
    Course start date:  Mon 4 Mar 2024

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Kate Hardy
    Paint a series of portraits inspired by the work of contemporary and historical artists. Learn from their individual ideas and techniques to introduce new ways of painting to your practice. The course can be used to progress from beginner level, or for experienced painters interested in portraiture.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £129.00 Concession £129.00
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