What is the course about?
This course asks you to examine afresh how you might approach portraiture. The aim being to enable you to create informed, original visual responses. The practical activities will help to build technical skills as you explore strategies to help you draw the figure more accurately and/or expressively. The course elements of research and discussion will inform how you approach this subject as you gain an awareness of the tradition of the self-portrait and its place in contemporary practice.
This is a live online course. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
The practical exercises in each session will focus upon a different technical approaches to the subject. This will be linked to a presentation referencing particular artists, their approaches and its relevance in contemporary portraiture. You will be encouraged to consider and discuss these approaches and contexts each week.
We will cover:
- The self-portrait as a training ground – Mark Making (line)
- Realism and the camera – Mark making (tone)
- Anatomists and facial expression – Monotype (line)
- Expressionism – gesture and colour (colour)
- Narrative and the portrait – light as narrative (tone)
- The artist as subject – the face framed and obscured.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Draw more accurately from observation
- Draw more expressively from observation
- Produce a series of short studies and two drawings that demonstrate extended study
- Contribute to a discussion about five+ portraits/ self-portraits (from historical and contemporary sources)
- Produce a series of drawings from direct observation that utilise some of the ideas discussed
- Consider a personal approach to portraiture.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for those with some previous experience drawing the figure from direct observation such as having done Portraits 1 and 2 or Life Drawing and Painting at City Lit. It is suitable as a bridging course for those who have completed any of the City Lit Advanced course programme and as a refresher for those returning to classes.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The sessions will take place online via Zoom (you will need to download the Zoom app before the first class); they will generally comprise of;
- Presentations and discussion
- Demos and practical tasks set as exercises which you complete individually
- Informal reviews and the setting of homework tasks
Examples of techniques and materials will be shown, demonstrated and discussed. Handouts and images of artists work will be used to introduce the practical activities. These practical activities will be set using a variety of techniques designed to help you break out of old habits and extend your skills. Practical work will involve drawing from observation whilst using a variety of materials including graphite, charcoal, and ink. These will be supported by one-to-one guidance and an informal review at the close of the session.
Homework/preparation tasks are a useful part of the course and it is recommended that you try to spend 2- 3hrs between each session completing them in order to make the most of the taught sessions. They will vary but will include; artist research tasks, practical exercises, sourcing materials from your domestic environment, photographing & uploading completed work to google classroom for class reviews. (The course will have its own Google classroom which will be used for; class communication, as a repository for class resources, including handouts, shared research suggestions, classwork etc. On enrolment you will be given codes to access this ).
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
As this is an online course you will need to have a suitable working space eg a well lit desk/table top and somewhere to put completed work/ work in progress. A couple of mirrors – one A4+ and one smaller magnifying mirror. A mobile phone with a camera. You will need to source the materials you need to use on the course and we will be working with basic materials and standard and non-standard tools.
These are not high cost materials eg. A good supply of cartridge paper, pencils various, graphite sticks, charcoal, rubbers various, drawing ink, Black, White and 3 x primary colours paint (oil, acrylic or gouache if you have these) paintbrushes/ sticks/ old toothbrushes, etc). You will be supplied with a full materials list when you enrol.
A computer or laptop with a fully updated browser google chrome browser works best.
- Headphones with microphones to block out all noise in sessions
- Or your device will need a microphone, and optionally a camera.
- You will need to login into our Google classroom before our sessions start, details will be provided ahead of the start date.
- You will require a good broadband connection as mobile data 3G/4G or a mobile dongle will not provide sufficient Bandwidth.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Have a browse of our art and design pages to see our array of courses in drawing, painting and mixed media.