Self Portraiture


COURSE DATES: Wednesdays, 17th April – 5th June 2024

TUTOR: Sadie Lee


TIMES: 10:30am – 4:30pm

EXPERIENCE LEVEL: Ages 18+, Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced

FEE: £500 + £10 materials fee

LOCATION: Art Academy London, 165A Mermaid Court, SE1 1HR

Explore painting using ourselves as subject matter, from direct observation, photography or other mediums. You’ll create painted self portraiture by examining different aspects of yourself; through ideas of identity, gender, social and familial connections, memories, aspirations and even through the use of costume and allusion. You’ll start with the technical aspects of painting, looking at the complications that arise and possible solutions, from which you can begin to adopt approaches that best suit you.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Analyse the work of others and apply findings to their own work.
  • Paint self portraits from observation and photographs.
  • Explore colour, tone and mark making through the creation of self portraits.
  • Describe how the quality of paint, colour, tone and mark making can affect an image and it’s potential reading and apply knowledge to their own work.
  • Design composition through controlled staging.
  • Create narrative in portrait painting through the incorporation of costume and symbolism.
  • Research, plan and realise 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.


*The course incurs a small fee for 6 cut canvases at £10, payable at the start of the 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. You must provide your 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).

You will need to bring the following:

  • 1 canvas or board 20 inches x 18 inches approx. The canvas, if shop-bought and ready primed, should be prepared with a ground of turps thinned, warm-grey, oil paint, which should be dry and ready for use. If bringing a gessoed board, this should have a similar ground applied.
  • A mirror
  • Oil paints
  • A palette – at least A4 in size
  • Palette knife
  • Brushes:
    • A range of flat or filbert hog hair bristle brushes (small to large)
    • Synthetic, (as above) if preferred
  • Digital (SLR) camera if possible or mobile phone
  • Only odorless spirits, Sansodor or Zest-it (the Academy is a white spirit free environment)
  •  Jam jar x 2 or receptacle for turps/linseed oil
  • Old newspaper and protective clothing
  •  Pencils/charcoal/pen and ink etc… any drawing equipment the students usually use.
  • Coloured pastels such as Sennelier portrait (optional)Oil paint colours:Cadmium Yellow Cadmium Red Light Hue Cadmium Red Deep Hue Titanium White
    Yellow Ochre
    Cadmium Red
    Alizarin Crimson Ultramarine Blue
    Sap Green
    Raw Umber
    Lamp Black
    Acrylic colours Raw Umber or closest Titanium White
    Lamp Black

If you do not have your own materials, there is an option to order an Oil Painting Pack at the time of booking, which will be available when you arrive for your first class and can be stored at the Academy for the duration of your course.

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.

      Certain materials can also be purchased from the Academy shop during shop hours. Please check in advance of your class if the item you require is available, as the Academy may not have this in stock.

Sadie Lee

Sadie Lee (b.1967) is an award-winning British figurative painter. Sexuality, gender and the aging body are recurring themes in her work. Her realistic, challenging paintings investigate human identity, vulnerability, defiance and notions of ‘otherness’, with a strong sense of solidarity with her subjects.
Solo exhibitions include the National Portrait Gallery (London), Manchester City Art Gallery and Schwules Museum (Berlin). Selected group shows at The I.C.A., Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art and the Museum of London.

She grew up in York in the North of England and now works from a studio in the Grade 1-listed Bruce Castle Museum, in London.

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.


Join the waitlist to be emailed when this product becomes available

Self Portrait Painted by Sadie Lee