Art Academy London’s Certificate in Portraiture provides a unique introduction to the exacting discipline of portraiture. Here you’ll begin to learn the skills of portrait painting in small classes taught by practising artists, many of them eminent in their field. The programme is part time and would suit beginners or people relatively new to the study of portraiture, offering you the opportunity to take a range of classes exploring some of the key components of this specialist genre, whilst being guided in tutorials with the Certificate in Portraiture Programme Leader as your work progresses.
The Certificate is typically one full day (10.30am-4.30pm) a week, completing six modules over two years. It can also be completed in an accelerated mode; two full days a week over one year. The programme is designed to fit around students’ busy lives and can be paused as often as necessary (with advance notice and for whole terms, only). There is no time limit to completing the Certificate.
Learn Technical Skills
The programme is made up of six modules called Elective Skills Workshop Courses. These courses are common components to all our academic programmes at the Academy, so you will be working alongside a diverse group of students.
The Certificate in Portraiture combines a range of portrait and figure painting classes, including figure painting (both clothed and nude), portrait painting, self portrait, portrait drawing and anatomy. You’ll learn about tone and colour, mixing flesh tones, lighting the model, composition and much more. Classes include the study of a range of different techniques, including different approaches to paint application, colour mixing, using egg tempera and working in oil or acrylic. You will be required to take a number of specified Elective courses in order to complete the programme.
Tutorials and Assessment
In addition to your skills classes, you’ll meet one-to-one with the Certificate in Portraiture programme leader, once a term. In these tutorials, you’ll review your progress and discuss ways to improve your work and develop your technique and skills further. Tutorials will either be in person or online.
The Certificate course is not formally assessed (nor is it necessary to complete work outside of the taught sessions). You will, however, need to meet the minimum attendance requirement (80%) and complete all six modules to pass the programme.
On completion of the Certificate programme, you’ll be given the opportunity to show a selection of your work in Art Academy London’s Certificate Summer show.
Find out more
Look through the 2023/24 Prospectus
*Please note handbooks maybe subject to change and will be reissued upon enrolment.
Our teaching body is second to none. All our tutors are practising artists, including prize-winning artists, artists with work in national collections and members of leading arts organisations including the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Central to our philosophy is that teaching and learning should be in small, supportive groups: our tutors get to know students individually and students learn from both the tutor and from each other within teaching groups not exceeding 15 people. The Certificate in Portraiture Programme Leader is Edward Sutcliffe. Edward is a figurative painter. His work has been shown in London, Dubai, Seoul and has been included in the BP Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery 8 times – in 2000, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
The programme is made up of six modules called Elective Skills Workshop Courses. These courses are common components to all our academic programmes at the Academy, so you will be working alongside a diverse group of students. You will choose your Electives from a range available each term. The day you attend will be dependent on the course you choose each term.
The Certificate is a flexible programme and can be customised to your needs. Should you want to take a course in more than one discipline at the same time (painting and drawing, for instance), this can be arranged since the courses take place on different days.
Taking a Certificate in Portraiture course opens up an avenue of opportunity for you. You’ll become part of a thriving artistic community, with opportunities to submit work for internal Academy competitions and join other Academy events, such as artist talks or student-led initiatives. Students are also able to take advantage of free places on the Academy’s public courses (evening, weekend and short courses). These are available at the discretion of the Academy and subject to availability.
In addition to your skills classes, you’ll meet one-to-one with the Certificate in Portraiture programme leader, Ed Sutcliffe, once a term. In these tutorials, you’ll review your progress and discuss ways to improve your work and develop your technique and skills further. Tutorials will either be in person or online.
We provide high levels of support and guidance for every step of your journey – from first enquiry to your graduation. We pride ourselves on our close community, where students feel safe and able to seek advice and guidance from our staff. For more information detailing the main areas of support, please see our Student Support page.
Fees and Funding
Fees for the Certificate Programme can be paid termly or annually. If you opt to pay termly, fees will be subject to a 5% surcharge. A deposit of £100 as outlined in point 3.2 is also payable on acceptance of the offer.
|Total Course Fee (1 or 2 years) £4,140||£725||£1,449|
Please note, these are our 2023/24 fees. Fees are subject to annual review and are likely to increase due to inflation in the following academic years (this is capped at 5% annually).
Studying Fine Art at this level will incur costs in addition to fees, accommodation, travel and usual living expenses. Whilst some basic materials are provided for certain Elective Skills Workshop Courses, you will be required to cover the costs of other materials associated with the course.
The Academy has a small shop on site, where you will be able to purchase some materials. Some guidance on where to purchase other specialist materials is in the student handbook and Tutors can also advise you.
Trips and Visits
Some components of the programme will suggest students visit relevant exhibitions. These are quite often free as they are in commercial galleries. Where there is an entry fee, whilst we encourage you to take these trips, we understand it is not always possible, so they are not compulsory nor essential.
As a small independent art school, we are unable to hold places offered indefinitely. If your application is successful you’ll need to pay a deposit of £100 (which will be deducted from your first term’s tuition fee) and return your signed contract to secure your place.
As an independent institution, our courses are not subject to public funding and as a result, there is no exemption from fees for under 19-year-olds or access to student loans.
Once you’ve returned the signed contract and paid your deposit, you have a 14-day cooling-off period to change your mind. If you choose to cancel during this time, we’ll refund your full deposit. After this period, the Academy reserves the right to retain this deposit if you fail to enrol.
You’ll need to pay your tuition fees before the start of the programme. Beyond the statutory cooling off period, you must inform the Academy of your intention to withdraw. If you wish to withdraw from your course after its official start date, you will be liable for a fee. Full details of the liability can be found in our Terms and Conditions. Should you need to, you can suspend your study for an agreed period. Please see our withdrawal and interruption of study policy for more information.
Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information on Fees.
We welcome applications from all enthusiastic candidates. Please email email@example.com or call +44 (0) 20 7407 6969 to discuss courses further or arrange a visit.
To apply, please fill out the online application form here.
If you wish to apply by post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application form.
We consider each application on an individual basis and welcome candidates from a variety of backgrounds. No formal qualifications are required. We will assess an applicant’s suitability for the Certificate through a portfolio of work, personal statement and interview. Applicants must be over 18 at the time of entry and must demonstrate competency in spoken and written English, which will be judged through the applicant’s Personal Statement and interview. On receiving an application, we will offer suitable applicants an interview. In some cases, we may ask to see additional supplementary work.
As part of your application form you’ll need to submit a personal statement. This is your opportunity to stand out from the other candidates, to set the scene for your interview. Your personal statement should be approximately 500 words and cover the following:
- Give us some context; What have you done previously (educationally, artistically and professionally)? Why are you interested in FIne Art ?
- Tell us about the materials, methods, and processes you use to make work and what you’re interested in exploring in the future.
- Tell us how and why artists have influenced your work.
- Why do you want to study at Art Academy London? What do you hope to gain from the programme? What are your ambitions?
Examples of Work
As part of the application form you’ll be asked to submit examples of your work digitally, so that we can assess your suitability for the programme ahead of a physical interview.
You should submit approximately 5 to 10 pieces. Digital examples must contain information about media and dimensions as a minimum, you may add titles and other explanatory text if you wish. This should be submitted as a PDF, Powerpoint or Word document.
For interview you’ll need to bring physical examples of your work with you. This doesn’t need to be completely different content to the digital submission. This should be approximately 10 to 15 pieces of work plus your sketchbooks (if you use them). These examples do not need to be mounted or ‘presented’, but rather a collection of work. You should, however, consider the order in which you wish it to be viewed.
For both digital and physical portfolios you should include evidence of:
- Finished work
- Work that demonstrates your range (include pieces that demonstrate your ability with different media and techniques)
You should consider the following:
- We’re not looking for perfection. Including developmental, unfinished and experimental work is important too.
- Be decisive. The ability to select and edit is important. You should have something to say about every piece and demonstrate that you can critically self-evaluate.
The Academy operates a fair and transparent admissions process to ensure that the widest range of people (with the motivation and ability to study at the correct level) have an opportunity to benefit from the Fine Art education we provide. To find out more information please see the Art Academy’s Admissions policy and Criminal Convictions Policy and Procedure.
Academic Regulations and Policies
As a student of the Academy it is very important you are aware of our Academic Regulations and Policies. These apply to any of our students studying on any of our Pre-Degree and Degree programmes and outline the agreed procedures and protocols to ensure all students understand both expectations and support available to them. To find out more information please see our Academic Regulations and Policies page.
If you are interested in studying at the Academy and would like to attend one of our Open Days, please fill in our Open Day form on our Open Day page.
Our Open Days offer an invaluable opportunity to gain in-depth information on our courses, learn about our dedicated and talented tutors and experience our vibrant and welcoming community.
Applicants with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
We are committed to supporting accessible learning and welcome students with disabilities and special educational needs.
We encourage you to disclose any disabilities or special needs when you apply, so we can plan any support that we may need to provide at the earliest opportunity, including during the admissions process. Admissions decisions are always made on the basis of a candidate’s ability and/or potential to complete the programme.
Accessibility and reasonable adjustments
Provided that a candidate is suitable for the programme applied for, we will make reasonable adjustments for applicants with a physical or mobility impairment in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.
Art Academy London’s premises are old buildings which inevitably means that access to some areas can be problematic for people with a physical disability. However, work carried out on our main Mermaid Court building over the last few years means that we can accommodate most students with physical disabilities on academic programmes.
Where necessary, we will make appropriate arrangements to mitigate any accessibility issues such as rescheduling of classes, workshops, tutorials, lectures and other events to spaces within the main building of Mermaid Court, which is wheelchair accessible. It may also include the provision of facilities to undertake classes and workshops in techniques and processes outside of the dedicated space in which they normally occur (i.e. printmaking) and individual provision of facilities such as storage spaces, where these are normally in unaccessible areas. The library is currently inaccessible to wheelchair users and alternative arrangements are in place for students with mobility issues to access the library resources
Some of our buildings will remain inaccessible for the foreseeable future (our second building at Mermaid Court). We are committed to improving access to all our buildings and are working towards making all areas of our campus fully accessible to all.
Hearing technology for hard of hearing/deaf applicants
Portable induction loops can be provided during open days, interview and in teaching spaces if required.
Other disabilities and conditions
If you have any other disability, specific learning difficulty, health, or mental health difficulty, please contact us to talk about options for support.
We welcome students with Special Educational Needs. A bespoke programme of Elective Skills Workshop courses will be mapped if necessary, and alternative assessment models employed where appropriate to provide a parity of opportunity with non-SEN students. Our SEND Coordinator will act as a personal tutor and first point of contact for all SEN students, and will also ensure that all other tutors working with SEN students understand that student’s needs and how to support them. In the final year of study, SEN students may be given additional support as necessary as they work towards their Graduate Show.
The SEND Coordinator, and other staff members as relevant, will keep in regular contact with the parents of SEN students if appropriate, including meeting with them to discuss the progress of the student and any issues arising in their course of study.
Students or applicants who declare a disability, specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia), long term health condition or mental health disability are asked to complete a ‘Student Declaration and Identification of Support Needs’ form. This is in addition to the declaration requested at application and is intended to ensure we capture the information we need to ensure a safe and successful educational career at the Academy. A member of the Academic team will then contact the student to discuss their individual support requirements and agree actions, which are made available to relevant tutors and support staff, informing them of any services and adjustments required.
BA (Hons) Degree in Contemporary Portraiture
The Certificate in Portraiture is internally awarded; it is not part of the QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework) and can’t be used as credit for another qualification.
But, having completed the Certificate in Portraiture, you can apply to move on to the Academy’s BA (Hons) in Contemporary Portraiture; the only one of its kind in the world, this unique programme enables you to build on the technical skills you’ll have acquired on the Certificate programme and begin to develop a unique artistic voice as a portrait artist.