Course Code E2003P31
Tutor Adele Wagstaff
Course Dates Saturdays, 17th April - 19th June 2021
Days 10
Times 10.00am – 4.00pm
Experience Level All Levels
Fee £500

An introduction to different approaches to portraiture and figure painting. This course runs every term with different tutors, and a slightly different emphasis (to include portraiture, figure painting and life painting). Working with a model on a series of poses, you’ll deal with tone and colour, proportion, lighting, composition, negative space, and will consider how to create a narrative depth.

What level is this course?

This course is suitable for all levels. Students can move at their own pace depending on their experience, with as much support from the Tutor as they wish.

  • Beginner

    Choose a Beginners course if you are looking for a broad introduction to the medium you are studying. Students spend time learning the very basics of the taught medium, for example, how to mix colours, use different tools, set up an easel. Our Beginner courses are suitable for students with no prior experience, they tend to follow a more structured path than our other courses, ensuring each student receives the guidance they need from the tutor.

  • Beginner +

    Choose a Beginner + course if you are looking to hone your skills, focus on a specific subject area and build your confidence. These courses are suitable for those with some basic skills in and knowledge of the taught medium, but still follow a structured path with guidance from the tutor.

  • Intermediate

    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.

  • Advanced

    Choose our Advanced courses if you have considerable knowledge in the taught medium. You are expected to be able to work independently and have critical discussions around your work.

     Our Advanced courses include our Masterclasses.

All attendees must be aged 18 or over.

What should I bring?

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), or kitchen roll.

Below is a 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.


Here is the complete palette list for this class. Your tutor will provide you with several palette options throughout the course.

Grisaille (monochromatic) Palette:

Titanium White, Raw Umber, Ivory Black

Limited Palette:

Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Ivory Black

Titanium White, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue

Extended Palette:

Lemon Yellow or Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red
Cerulean Blue or Cobalt Blue


Long handled brushes preferable to short-handled brushes.
Try and purchase a variety of natural hog bristle brushes and synthetic bristle. Please bring the following shapes:

● Flat
● Filbert
● Round

The more brushes you have at your disposal, the better. A greater variety of sizes and shapes gives you greater versatility as a painter.

Please aim for a minimum of 10 brushes.


Please bring a linseed oil such as cold pressed or refined, or stand oil. You will need solvent to dilute oil and wash brushes.

Painting Surfaces:

Please bring a variety of painting surfaces, large and small, each week. These should be scaled to suit your preference. Oil primed linen, acrylic primed cotton, gesso panels etc. We will go into more detail after the first class.

Suggested​ Painting Equipment:

The following items are recommended but not mandatory.

2 painting knives: one for mixing, one for scraping paintings. The preferred types are as follows:

For mixing on the palette, something like a ‘10’ is useful: ​**

For scraping wet and dry paintings, use one of the following:

**​A T22 palette knife can be purchased from the Art Academy shop separately. This is also included in the below oil painting packs for purchase.

For cleaning brushes, you can purchase an airtight stainless steel brush cleaner, like the following:

Or, you can simply use an old jam jar.

If you bring a wooden palette, a clip-on dipper to contain your medium is a good idea. These are inexpensive and can be picked up from L. Cornelissen & Son and other places. They are shaped like flying saucers to prevent your medium from flying everywhere as you hold your palette, and come with lids. See below:

Or, you can simply use on old jam jar.

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.

Other Suggested Equipment:

Pocket mirror Plumb-line

N.B.​ Oil Painting Packs can be purchased from the Academy. These are an economical alternative to the above list, but please be aware you might need to supplement them with a few items here and there – however, these give you a good base to work from:

You will need to bring your own painting materials to the class, which you can store at The Art Academy for the duration of the course. If you do not have your own materials, we recommend you order the one of the Painting Packs, below, at the time of booking, which 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.

About Your Tutor

Adele Wagstaff​ trained as a painter at Newcastle University and the Slade School of Fine Art. She has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and the BP Portrait Award, and her work has been exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery, Royal West of England Academy and the Canadian Portrait Academy. Following on from her graduation from the Slade School of Art, where she focused on working from the nude in sustained poses, her

practice continues to look at the human figure and still life.
Adele teaches at West Dean College, Putney School of Art & Design and the Royal Academy of Arts. She has written

two books ​Painting Still life in Oils ​2012 and ​Painting the Nude​ 2015, both published by the Crowood Press.


Mermaid Court

165A Borough High Street
London SE1 1HR
tel: +44 (0) 207407 6969

Nearest Tube/ Rail: London Bridge or Borough (both a 5 minute walk).

Please note that London Bridge has two exits, the most direct route is to follow signs to “Borough High Street”.

Art Academy Map

Refreshments and Facilities

Access to a common room and kitchen is limited while distancing measures are in place. It can be used by up to 12 people (from the same class) at scheduled break times only. The kitchen can be used by 1 person at a time for hand washing and waste disposal facilities only.

Students are currently not able to use the kitchen to prepare hot drinks and/or food. Students are able to use the coffee machine, where free hot water, and paid-for hot drinks are available. The payment is contactless.

Mugs are not available for use, and students are strongly encouraged to bring their own reusable mugs if they wish to use the coffee machine.

There is a wealth of supermarkets, shops and cafes in the area as well as the world famous Borough Food Market just moments from our Mermaid Court location.

We are always striving to improve our facilities but due Mermaid Court being an old building we have limited disability access. Should you have any access requirements please speak to a member of the Academy team before booking the course.

Further Details

  • 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.
  • 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 purchased on our Materials Page or on the individual course page when you make your booking.
  • 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 MUST be taken home at the end of the course or it will be disposed of. Paintings that need to dry should be collected within a week. For clay sculptures that need hollowing and firing, you will receive a separate email when they can be collected.
  • 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 at the beginning of your class.
  • Sometimes our photographer will pop in to get some images of our classes in progress. We will typically inform you beforehand if photography is taking place during your class; if you do not want to be photographed please let the photographer know!
  • To find out more about what’s going on at the Academy follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. If you’d like to share images of your course, your progress or your finished work we’d love to see them! Please bear in mind you must have the permission of tutors, other students and models to photograph them.
  • If you would like more information or advice on courses at the Academy please contact
  • For further details please see our Short Courses: Regulations & Policies page.

From: £500.00