Portrait Painting | Masterclass

Learn to paint a competent portrait using the sight-size method, starting with a simple charcoal transfer drawing through to a finished study in oils.

Date & Time

Multiple Dates | Monday to Friday | 10.00-17.00


LARA London
371 Clapham Road
London SW9 9BT
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This Portrait Painting Masterclass will teach you to paint a competent portrait using the sight-size method, starting with a simple charcoal transfer drawing through to a finished study in oils.

To maintain the highest quality teaching and results, there are no more than four students per portrait model. This allows each student to achieve a sight-size portrait within the five day course.

This course requires a minimum number of enrolments to run.

Aims of this Course

This course will address:

  • Applying a knowledge of anatomy to a portrait
  • Understanding the proportions and planes of the head and using props, such as the skeleton and skull, to inform understanding and develop a deeper knowledge of the underlying structure of the form
  • Using sight-size to capture an accurate likeness of the sitter and bringing out the best in your model
  • Assembling an appropriate palette of colour and mixing accurate colour values
  • Paint handling and edge control
  • Controlling focus within portrait painting and overall design
  • Using colour and value to create a convincing impression of light
  • Technical and practical knowledge regarding pigments, painting media and canvas for creating long-lasting paintings

The Facilities

Each class is limited to 8 students working from two models in sight-size.  The Workshop Room is located within the LARA London studio.

Each model is lit with individual professional photographic lighting which provides a steady, unchanging environment from which to observe all elements of portrait painting.

The Materials

Please bring the following materials with you. Items marked with an asterisk are stocked in the LARA shop. Please call ahead if you would like to reserve items to ensure availability.

Oil Paint: The LARA Palette

  • Lead White – PW1 (recommended) or Titanium White* – PW6
  • Nickel Yellow* – PY 53
  • Yellow Ochre* – PY 43
  • Cadmium Red* – PR 108 (or cheaper alternative English Red PR 1C1 or Winsor and Newton Scarlet Red))
  • Alizarin Crimson* – PR 83 (more permanent alternatives: Quindacridone Magenta – PR 122, Quindacridone Maroon – PR 206)
  • Cobalt Blue* – PB 28 (or cheaper alternative Ultramarine Blue PB 29)
  • Raw Umber* – PBr 7
  • Ivory Black* – PBk 9
  • We highly recommend Old Holland, C Roberson, Blockx, Vasari and Winsor and Newton (cheapest option)

For Your Transfer Drawing

  • Tracing paper* – 1 or 2 sheets same size as canvas
  • Charcoal* – this can be willow charcoal or you can purchase Nitram charcoal from the school

For Painting

  • Balanced wooden arm palette* (if you are right handed, please buy a left handed palette, and vice versa)
  • Stretched linen canvas* or gesso panel 18″x24″ approximately. It’s advisable to bring 2 canvases of the same size to help transport your painting safely home.  If you know how to put down an imprimatura, please do so with a thin wash of raw umber as this will save you painting time.  Alternatively we will do a demonstration on the first day for those who are unsure.
  • Small (roughly A4 size) canvas cut-off, panel or canvas paper* – for colour study
  • Hog bristle brushes*  (overall a good selection of hog brushes should be used.  The more brushes, the easier it is to keep colour mixes clean. A variety of sizes is essential for handling large areas of the painting as well as small details.  However, a set of at least 10 ‘filberts’ and ‘flats’ should be enough to get started).
  • Flexible steel palette knife*
  • Refined Linseed Oil*
  • Winsor and Newton Sansodor* or Jackson’s low odour solvent (odourless turpentine substitute for painting).  You cannot use turpentine within the studio
  • Airtight metal brush cleaner or jam jar (jam jars must be clearly labelled with your name, course and solvents it contains)
  • Metal dipper* for medium
  • A good supply of kitchen roll for cleaning brushes
  • Tupperware tub for keeping paints overnight
  • Something to carry your wet paintings home with on the last day, for example, a canvas carrier*.  If you are unable to find one, another canvas of the same size can be strapped to the front to keep the painting safe while being transported.


“It was a joy to have five consecutive days on a piece of work and feel that you had managed to make progress by the end of it” – Alix Osmond-Jones, Portrait Painting Masterclass student 2018

“Sofia is fantastic! She is clear and very informative in her teaching, calms you down when stressed or overwhelmed, inspiring in her work, and fun and fabulous to be around. She manages to tailor to both beginners and professional artists and everyone got loads out of it” – Laura Arenson, Portrait Painting Masterclass student 2018

Learn from the best tutors

Sofia Welch

"Studying at LARA enabled me to acquire the fundamental visual skills, and gave me the confidence in both my work and myself to pursue a career I had always dreamed of."

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