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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

At the beginning of the 21st century, Britain stands pre-eminent in maintaining the tradition of portrait painting. Nowhere else in the world is this specialist art form a more significant feature of cultural life.

Portraiture is a record of individuals seen through the relationship between artist and sitter – a symbol and vehicle for the transmission of ideas and comment on the human condition.

What is the Portrait Diploma?

The course is a carefully structured programme written within a framework of observational painting and drawing using the human model. You will be grounded in the skills needed to work from direct observation and will be helped to develop these skills into a personal body of work. The course further aims to help you acquire the perspectives and the sense of context necessary for working independently as an artist.

The two year Diploma Course (72 weeks) takes place on three days a week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) over six terms of twelve weeks each.

Course Content

The main emphasis of study will be in drawn and painted images from the model using a wide variety of media. Printmaking, photography and work in three dimensions will constitute essential elements of the course. Human anatomy, methods and materials, history of portraiture, pictorial composition and the construction of pictorial space will also be studied. Usually, three full days (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) will be devoted to a specific project, with additional time in drawing, lectures and research.

Admission Requirements

APPLICANTS FOR SEPTEMBER 2022: Please complete the full time application form and post or email to the school. You will then be contacted by the school to arrange a suitable date and time for interview in March 2022.

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. Whilst completion of an art foundation course is desirable, a sustained commitment to non-vocational classes and courses would also be regarded as acceptable experience.

Assessment and Tuition

Studio tuition will be supported by a personal tutorial every six weeks. Students will be required to produce some written work. There are two 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. Tutors on the course include members of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters and National Portrait Gallery, John Player and BP Award winners. Students frequently exhibit at the Royal Portrait Society Show and at the National Portrait Gallery exhibition.

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

Applications for September 2022

We are currently offering interviews for academic year 2022-23. To apply for a place on the Portrait Diploma starting 26 September 2022 please complete the application form (below). If you have any questions please call us on 020 7351 4190.

TERM DATES 2021-22

AUTUMN 2021 – 12 weeks
Monday 27 September – Wednesday 15 December

SPRING 2022 – 12 weeks
Monday 10 January – Wednesday 30 March

SUMMER 2022 – 12 weeks
Monday 25 April – Wednesday 13 July

The school is closed bank holidays Monday 2 May, Thursday 2 June and Friday 3 June 2022.

Course Description


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