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

Diploma in Portraiture

Sustained Courses 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.

For more information or to arrange an interview please call us on 020 7351 4190 or send us an email.

Fees 2017-18

1st Year £8,895
2nd Year £8,810

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What is the Portrait Diploma?

The course is a carefully structured programme written within a famework 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 neccessary 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 12 weeks each.

Heatherley's School of Arts - Diploma in Portraiture

Heatherley's School of Arts - Diploma in Portraiture

2017-2018 Term Dates

AUTUMN 2017 – 12 weeks
Monday 25 September – Saturday 16 December

SPRING 2018 – 11 weeks
Monday 8 January – Saturday 24 March

SUMMER 2018 – 13 weeks
Monday 16 April – Saturday 14 July

Course Duration 72 weeks.
The school is closed bank holiday Mondays 7 May and 28 May 2018.


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.

Course Structure

The course covers two years study, each year has its own emphasis:

The First Year

During the first year of the course, you will be taken through a number of projects designed to give you the opportunity to build your knowledge of the human head and the human figure. In the first term, these will include a sculpture and a print project as well as a number of drawing and painting projects. You will also be introduced to technical aspects of oil painting including making a canvas.

During the second and third term, this foundation will be extended to projects which take on the whole figure, the nude, two-figure paintings and the space around the figure.  Each project will highlight a relevant issue, for example, tone, colour, paint handling and composition.  At the end of the first year, you will have an assessment by the Course Director and take part in a public exhibition at the college.

The Second Year

The second year of the course builds on the above foundation but the emphasis is now on the way you would like to use the strategies you have developed in the first year.  In this year the painting, drawing and printing projects will continue to work on the ongoing issues of painting construction as above but in addition narrative, personal expression, imagination and a consideration of historical and contemporary context for your work will come more to the forefront of your studies. In the final term there you will be encouraged to set your own agenda in building a body of work which expresses your own vision for assessment and exhibition to the public at the end of the second year.

Admission Requirements

APPLICANTS FOR SEPTEMBER 2017: Interviews will be held from 16-24 May 2017. Please complete the full-time application form and post or email to the school by Thursday 11 May at the latest. You will then be contacted by the school.

Applicants need to be highly self-motivated and must bring a portfolio of recent work for the interview. Work should reveal drawing and painting ability together with evidence of intelligent and imaginative visual exploration – not necessarily confined to portrait subject matter.

Successful applicants will be informed by 31 May.

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.