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The Heatherley School of Fine Art, 75 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0RN  |  phone 020 7351 4190

Diploma in Portraiture

A sustained course in Portrait Painting

What is the Portrait Diploma?

For anyone wanting to develop as a painter, portraiture offers challenges that equip any student to approach painting, in whatever way or direction they wish to take it. Painting from observation acknowledges perception as a creative, complex, emotional and dynamic set of processes, which includes memory, fantasy and abstraction. Rendering a fixed, two-dimensional image onto canvas in paint can be achieved in a myriad of ways. Exercising and honing each student’s ability to translate visual experience in their own unique way is an important aspect of this two-year course.

As a student, you will learn to deal with structure, anatomy, colour, composition and the use of materials within a friendly environment with live models. Attempting to capture not just a likeness but a sense of a person, a living presence, will prepare the ground for students to pursue and shape an exciting, fulfilling, independent career as a painter of any kind, not only in portraiture.

Course Content

The two year Diploma Course takes place on three days a week, Monday to Wednesday, over two years. The course is structured around a series of three week projects with different tutors from inside and outside Heatherleys. Our tutors comprise a wide range of portrait painters offering different approaches and include James Lloyd, Melissa Scott Miller RP, NEAC, Tim Benson PROI, NEAC, RP, Sara Jane Moon, Adebanji Alade PROI and James Hague RP.

Student painting in the studio - blue 2018

Working with models from life, we will of explore the use of oil paint and its exceptional range. A sculpture project will be introduced to explore the head in three dimensions and a printmaking project will further contextualise our work with oil paint. Each week, students are offered life drawing classes and drawing will be an essential part of the course throughout. In projects where photography is explored, it will be used and considered within the context of extensive experience of working from direct observation.

There is a programme of art history lectures and students will write one essay each year, requiring them to visit exhibitions and build their sense of context, both historical and contemporary. An ability to discuss your work and that of others will be actively encouraged and supported

Assessment and Tuition

Studio tuition will be supported by a personal tutorial every six weeks. There are three assessment stages during the course with the award of the Heatherley Diploma in Portraiture being dependent on a satisfactory Second-Year final assessment. The student will produce a body of work containing both course projects and ones devised personally.

Days of Study: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 10am-4pm + additional life drawing class from 4.30pm-7pm either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Applications for September 2024

To apply, please complete the online application form.

You’ll then be contacted by the school to arrange a date and time for interview. Interviews will be held from early February 2024.

Applicants should be highly self-motivated and are asked to bring a portfolio of recent work. As well as paintings, there should also be evidence of drawing ability and an awareness of contemporary art issues.

Suitable applicants will receive an offer of a place after interview. To secure your place, you must confirm your acceptance of this offer in writing and by payment of a deposit of 10% of the first year’s fees.

If you have any questions, please call us on 020 7351 4190.

TERM DATES 2023-24

Monday 25 September – Saturday 16 December

Monday 8 January – Saturday 23 March

Monday 15 April – Saturday 6 July

Closed bank holidays: Mondays 6 May and 27 May

FEES 2023-24

Diploma in Portraiture 2023-24
(Course length 72 weeks)
1st Year £9,350
2nd Year £9,350

View all fees

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Course Description

Portrait Diploma Student painting in the Heatherleys Studio