Course Code SC1903053
Tutor Valentina Zlatarova
Course Dates Monday - Friday, 30th March - 3rd April 2020
Days 5
Times 10.00am – 5.00pm
Experience Level Advanced
Fee £365
Location Art Academy London, 165A Mermaid Court, SE1 1HR

Portrait sculpture is an immensely absorbing and enjoyable discovery with every new sitter. This course aims to build upon your previous experience [Intermediate/Advanced] to further how to observe and translate your observation into a clay portrait sculpture from a life model. Refresh, renew or find alternative ways of looking through group and individual discussion with your experienced tutor, Valentina Zlatarova, trained at the Florence Academy of Art, Italy.  Whether setting out a head from a structural point of view with a clear path of constructive method and/or searching for a more expressive manner of approach, you will benefit from exploring with a professional sculptor to help build upon your own sculptural expression.  

Valentina’s approach to this course will be to focus on an observational approach to sculpting from life, informed by academic practice, and will encourage the student to develop a highly personal and considered response to the human form.  Students will be invited to address the exciting challenges in representing the character of the sitter and encouraged to discover artistic solutions to making a resolved portrait. 

During the course you will cover

  • Observation
  • Capturing a likeness
  • Taking measurements

By the end of this course you will:

  • Appreciate the complexity of the head in terms of form and features
  • Understand how to examine the head from all angles
  • Use drawing to assist the sculptural process, particularly drawing the profile of the head
  • Use an armature (bust-peg)
  • Use a basic measurement system to set up the form of the head
  • Build up a life-size portrait head in clay using fingers as well as tools

What level is this course?

This course is suitable for students at our Advanced level.

  • 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.

Other course levels include:

  • 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.

All attendees must be aged 18 or over.

What should I bring?

You should bring as much from the below list as possible.  In some cases we can provide selected equipment:

  • Wooden and/or metal modelling tools
  • Callipers for measuring (medium-sized)
  • Metal ruler and/or tape measure
  • Wire cutter
  • Water spray bottle
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Barbecue sticks
  • Masking tape
  • Hand-held mirror
  • Black bin liner
  • Drawing implement (pencil, pen, or charcoal)
  • Sketchpad / loose leaf paper
  • Apron or old clothing
  • Camera for documenting your progress

At the end of the course students are given the option to leave their sculptures for hollowing and firing. There is a charge of £20 for hollowing and £20 for firing. Hollowing is necessary before a piece can be fired and the piece should normally be ready for collection about 8-10 weeks after the course ends.  This is payable by card only before leaving the course. A form will need to be completed.

Note: you will need to bring your own life-size bust-peg/armature if you wish to take away your work and are not leaving it to be hollowed out and fired.  The Art Academy provides bust pegs for the course, but these cannot be taken away as they are needed for future courses.  There will not be an option to purchase these.  You would need to decide how you are going to take your sculpture home (if you are not leaving it for hollowing and firing). The best way is to carry in the boot of a car with ballast to weigh-down the base (bags of clay are ideal) or on the backseat with a pillow between the sculpture and car seat.

About Your Tutor


Valentina was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Having expressed an interest in art from an early age Valentina began her formal artistic education at the age of 13 at Tzanko Lavrenov School of Art, Plovdiv. Following her graduation in 2004 she pursued her interest in figurative sculpture at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy where she studied sculpture, drawing and painting, and later joined the faculty as a drawing instructor.  In 2007 Valentina established herself as a professional sculptor in London, during which time she won the Founders’f Sculpture Prize and twice received the Tiranti Prize for portraiture from the Society of Portrait Sculptors. From 2008-2012 she worked as a principal instructor in sculpture and drawing at the London Atelier of Representational Art in London. Valentina is joining the teaching faculty at Barcelona Academy of Art from January 2015.  Valentina’s work is featured in public and private collections worldwide.



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

All students have access to a common room and kitchen. Here you will find tea and coffee, a fridge, kettle, microwave and eating area.

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.


Places Available!

Fee: £365.00