Contemporary portraiture studio: all levels

Course Dates: 04/05/19 - 08/06/19
Time: 14:00 - 17:30
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: Simon English

Looking at contemporary portraits for inspiration, you will use a variety of exciting approaches including painting, collage and exploring the relationship between the artist and the sitter. Come with an open mind to enjoy experimentation and a range of ideas in creating compelling images of the human head and form.


What is the course about?

The course aims to examine the roles and shifting positions of the Portrait within Modern and Contemporary Art.
"Contemporary Portraits" will propose a series of practice based sessions exploring mixed media drawing, collage. photography and painting alongside preliminary talks, demonstrations and group discussions.
We will use life models, photographs and media based imagery as principle sources in which to instigate, investigate or indeed interrogate our subject.
Modern and Contemporary Portraiture is still a highly vibrant and communicative enterprise in todays art, the gaze of the known/unknown sitter still fascinates.
Contemporary Portraiture reveals the modern psyche, touching on issues of fame, gender, religion, politics, race or sexuality as well as offering us a compass of humanity, a memorial of lost eras, a snapshot of now, a keepsake of love or finally, a reminder of our own mortality.

What will we cover?

Practical workshops will involve an abundant use of drawing, painting, mixed media, mono-print and collage.
An examination of mark and line in relation to fleeting glimpses and image construction.
A look at structure, scale and anatomy as a means of unveiling the mask.
The use of tone, light and cross hatching in the art of rendering flesh and form.
Mono-print as a means of spotlighting celebrities, heroes, villains and loved ones.
Heads of consequences in relation to collage, identi-kits, the exquisite corpse and death masks.
Gesture, expression and the human condition through the frame of mixed media drawing.
Likeness and the Art of palette mixing.
Myth and morphology through shape shifting and colour.
Memory and the pursuit of ghosts.
The art of keepsakes, tablet painting and farewell portraits.
Talks on Contemporary portraiture with an emphasis on "Who's looking at Who Now" and the intricate relationship between the artist, the sitter and the spectator within a contemporary context.
The optional construction of an ongoing "Head Notebook".
Group "Talking Heads" discussions.
Text and titles within the context of contemporary portraiture and communication.

This course concerns contemporary practice and debate. As such you can expect to be stimulated and challenged by some of the ideas and images discussed.

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

Work confidently with a wide range of mixed media, drawing, painting, mono-print, collage techniques and skills.
Understand the significance of materiality upon the making and meaning of the subject.
Develop a "Head Notebook" and be able to understand, grasp and talk "Heads" in Contemporary Art.
Experiment with diverse ways of both making, looking at and presenting portraits both on and off the wall.
Reflect on the important relationships between the gaze of the artist, the subject and the spectator.
Understand the use of text and titles alongside the contemporary image.

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

The course is open to all though some previous experience in drawing and painting is advisable though not essential.
Bring an open mind.

You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.

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

The class will be primarily practical with one to one tuition, exercise, demonstrations, informal lectures and group "Talking Heads" discussions.
You are invited to initiate a "Head Notebook" to record artist names and experiment with various techniques and approaches during the intervening weeks. This is optional.

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

Basic materials will be provided. The tutor will advise you what to bring in from the mixed media cupboards of home with regard to collage and photography.

If you would like to buy art materials for your personal use outside of the course, Build 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?

Build Year of the Figure and Portrait, Build Fine Art Course, Contemporary Painting Studio, Painting Techniques, Life Painting Studio, Drawing and Movement, Performative Life Drawing: A Theatrical Approach and many other courses please see brochure or website for details.

General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Book your place

Course Code: VM910

Sat, day, 04 May - 08 Jun '19

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Full fee: £249.00
Senior fee: £249.00
Concession: £152.00

Or call to enrol: 222-66-889-99

Download form & post

Any questions? [email protected]
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 . You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.