Painting Portraits from the Masters


COURSE DATES: Thursdays, 18th April – 6th June 2024

TUTOR: Carl Randall


TIMES: 10:30am – 4:30pm


FEE: £500

An introduction to various techniques and approaches taken by great portrait painters from the past. Through study and analysis, the projects will give you the opportunity to learn how to apply some of the methods used by historical painters, taught in a structured and step by step manner. Using paintings in London’s National Gallery as the basis of studies, you will create copies of well-known portraits by artists (under the broad term ‘Old Masters’). The course will conclude with developing a portrait of your own, using a combination of effective Old Master techniques. Composition and background will also be discussed and considered.

Your tutor will support you fully throughout the course in both group sessions and one-to-one support, providing regular feedback, critique and constructive advice.

Learning outcomes:

  • Analyse the work of others, applying findings to their own work.
  • Apply painting techniques in a range of experiments (including; grisaille, verdaccio, impasto, glazing).
  • Create cartoons (underdrawings) in preparation for paintings.
  • Create portraits using other paintings as inspiration
  • Research, plan and complete a self initiated project.

This course is part of our Elective Skills Workshop series. You will be studying alongside students from our pre-degree and degree programmes.


All attendees must be aged 18 and over.

Our Intermediate courses are suitable for students who have considerable prior knowledge of the taught medium or have completed a Beginners/Beginners + course with the Art Academy. These courses tend to be less structured and instead are tailored to the classes’ needs and the direction they want to advance in. Choose an Intermediate course if you are looking to improve your skills and have more critical discussions around the work you produce.


Please note that as this course is based around materials and techniques, please take careful note of items needed for each lesson (as also stated above in ‘What to Bring‘). Please also note that students will not be using materials as used exactly by the Old Masters. For convenience and cost, materials and techniques have been adapted and simplified for the purposes of this course.

The Academy is a white spirit and turpentine free environment and only odourless spirits, such as Zest-it or Sansodor, are permitted on the premises. Students must provide their own spirits, which can be recycled for longevity.

We request that you bring 2 small jars (one with a lid, one without) to hold your spirit, and a few cloth rags for brush cleaning (such as an old cotton t-shirt).

Below is an approximate list of what is currently required for the course. Please also check the ‘what to bring’ sections above. Your tutor will advise if further materials or equipment are required as the course progresses. Materials will be discussed in detail in the first class. Students will benefit from purchasing any additional supplies they need after this introduction.

  • Oil paints (any well known brand): Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Ivory Black, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue; Sap Green or Terre Verte.
  • Brushes: assorted sizes of bristle, synthetic and sable brushes, including filberts, rounds and flats. Very small pointed brushes are important (for very fine sharp detail). Very large brushes are not needed for this course.
  • A3 Palette (tear off better than wood).
  • Palette knife
  • 2x Jamjar with lid
  • Pipette (eye dropper).
  • Old rags
  • Old shirt or apron
  • Oil painting boards – 5 x small (12” x 10”), 1 x medium (16” x 12”). Or oil painting paper of similar size.
  • Oil Painting Medium or fast drying Linseed Oil. Glazing Medium. Odourless spirit (Zest~it or Sansadoor).
  • All drawing materials (to include pencils, rubbers, charcoal (willow and compressed), sharpener etc.
  • Impasto oil medium (optional but recommended). Such as: beeswax paste, Alkyd Impasto, Oleopasto, Liquin Impasto, etc.

Most drawing and painting materials can be purchased from the Academy shop during shop hours but please check with us ahead of the course.

The Academy has created an ‘Oil Painting pack’ which contains basic materials, but this may not include individual tutors recommended materials (see above). Please either purchase an academy painting pack directly from the Art Academy, or source the individual items yourself from elsewhere.

If you do not have your own materials, we recommend you order one of our Painting Packs when booking. You can purchase this at the checkout. Once ordered, packs will be available when you arrive for your first class. There is also a mini shop in the Academy that supplies the basics such as canvas boards, paints, Zest-it etc. (card purchases only)

The Academy is a white spirit and turpentine free environment and only odourless spirits, such as Zest-it or Sansodor, are permitted on the premises. These can also be recycled on site. If you are using oil paints you must bring 1 small jar with a lid to hold your solvent as this should be reused each week. If you want to dispose of your solvent please speak to your tutor as these cannot be poured down the sink and must be disposed of correctly.

Please also bring an apron or old clothing to wear.

    The Oil Pack contains:
  • A set of bristle brushes, both flat and round
  • One tear off palette (9”x12”)
  • One palette knife
  • One bottle of Zest-it (250ml)
  • One 10″x12″ canvas board
  • One 10″x14″ canvas board
  • Two 12″x16″ canvas boards
  • Eight Daler Rowney 38ml Georgian oil tubes of Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, Coeruleum Blue and Burnt Umber

      Please note that pack contents are subject to change at the discretion of the Academy at any time.

      Please be aware that depending on the course structure, you might need to purchase extra canvas boards, on top of the ones provided in the pack.

Carl Randall is a graduate of The Slade School of Fine Art, The Royal Drawing School London, and Tokyo University of Arts Japan. He is the winner of the BP Travel Award at The National Portrait Gallery, The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition, The Nomura Art Prize Japan, as well as several other awards.

He has had several solo exhibitions in London and Japan, with group exhibitions at The National Portrait Gallery, The Royal Academy of Arts, The Jerwood Gallery, Flowers Gallery, Mall Galleries, Christies New York & London, Tokyo Art Award, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Arts; as well as participating in art fairs in Switzerland, Turkey, Japan and Taiwan.

His work has been the featured on the BBC World Service and CNN, and can be found in the collections of University College London Art Museum, Tokyo Geidai Art Museum Japan, Foundation Carmignac Paris, and The Royal Collection (being commissioned by HRH Prince of Wales), as well as in private collections in the UK, Japan, Australia and USA. His fine art prints are in the collection of Cambridge University, the National Poetry Library, London Zoo, and Channel 4 News Studios.

He was invited to be artist in residence in Hiroshima City to paint portraits of survivors of the Atomic Bomb, and at the Grand Prix Formula 1 Races in Japan. His BP Travel Award display of sixteen Japan paintings at the National Portrait Gallery in 2013 was accompanied by ‘Japan Portraits’ – a catalogue illustrating paintings and drawings made during his stay in Tokyo. The exhibition then travelled to Aberdeen Art Gallery Scotland; Wolverhampton Art Gallery England; and The Tokaido Hiroshige Museum, Shizuoka Japan.

Terms and Conditions

  • By booking onto one of our courses you agree to our Short Courses Terms and Conditions.
  • You will need to have paid in full before the first session of your class. Your place is not guaranteed until we have received full payment. Please book early in order to guarantee your place on the course.

Materials & Equipment

  • If you purchased a pack online this will be given to you on the first session of your course upon your arrival. Packs can be booked on our Materials Page or on this page when you book the course
  • Please don’t wear your best clothes as there is always a chance you will get messy. If possible bring an apron or overalls.
  • All artwork at the Academy MUST be taken home at the end of the course or it will be disposed of.
  • Please ensure that your mobile phone is switched off or is on silent during the class.
  • Health and Safety Guidelines will be provided to you a week before the start of your course.

Concessions and Discounts

We offer a number of concessions and discounts, please find more information on what we offer here.

Gift Vouchers

If you would like to purchase a gift voucher to be used on our courses then you can purchase these here.