Paint a portrait in oils

Course Dates: 08/03/20 - 29/03/20
Time: 10:00 - 17:00
Location: KS - Keeley Street

Learn to draw and paint portraits using traditional methods of observation, composition and mark making. Working from a variety of professional portrait models you will start with pencil and charcoal and progress on to oil painting.


What is the course about?

This is a mixed ability course for all who wish to understand traditional methods for creating a portrait in both drawing and painting. The class will start with drawing and progress to painting in oils. You will work primarily from observation of portrait models.

What will we cover?

- Proportion
- Rotation of the head
- Methods for improving observational portrait drawing
- Colour mixing in paint for portraits
- Taking inspiration from traditional portrait artists.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Draw portraits more accurately
- Draw portraits from a variety of view points
- Understand composition and apply it to your portraits
- Draw a head that looks three-dimensional
- Prepare a surface for painting a portrait
- Mix colours successfully from observation
- Improve your rendition of tone in portrait painting.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Open to all students.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will learn by practical demonstration, looking at the work of traditional portrait painters, one to one tuition, tutor demos and group discussion.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

All basic materials are provided for the course. Students may wish to purchase a canvas or board for the portrait painting element. Your tutor will advise you about this during the class.

If you would like to buy art materials for your personal use outside of the course, City Lit students receive 10% discount off everything* from Cass Art, the UK’s leading art supplies retailer. Your tutor will advise you on what you should buy. You will need to show your enrolment receipt in-store to receive your discount. Visit the Charing Cross shop at 13 Charing Cross Road WC2H 0EP or find your local shop at
*Terms and conditions apply, visit

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

The City Lit Year of Figure and Portrait course will start again in October 2018 or you may wish to join one of the following courses at the end of this term:
- VH892 Anatomical life and portrait drawing studio
- VH759 Experimental approaches to portraiture.

Tutor Biographies
Brian Sayers

Brian has taught painting and drawing for over 30 years in a variety of different places and at different levels. He graduated from the Slade School of Art in 1978 and has continued to practise painting ever since. He has had over 10 one-person shows in the UK and exhibited in Germany and the USA. Although still life has been a principle interest, he has completed a number of portraits and exhibited 3 times in the National Portrait Gallery and is often in the RA Summer Exhibition. Brian particularly likes to include knowledge of art historical contexts with practical work to extend students' methods and approaches. He aims to focus on painting from diverse periods and cultures to develop individual ideas. When teaching he hopes to encourage a liveliness of approach with a solid understanding of technical issues involved. This can, in his opinion, lead on to a more confident, personal approach.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: VM013

Please choose a course date 

Sun, day, 08 Mar - 29 Mar '20

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

Full fee: £299.00
Senior fee: £299.00
Concession: £182.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Download form & post

Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2700/2703

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.