Year 1 (Level Four)
In Year one the focus is on investigation and you will be encouraged to experiment widely with techniques and approaches to portraiture through three Experimental Studio Practice modules. In these modules you will learn to experiment with the ideas, processes, materials and techniques that will provide the foundation for your developing art practice and inform the work you undertake in subsequent levels, starting to identify your areas of interest and to explore how to use formal, artistic language within portraiture and the relationship between the material and conceptual exploration of a creative idea. The Studio Practice modules at Level 4 are delivered through a scheduled day of tutored practical work, seminars, critiques and tutorials, supplemented by independent study. For all Studio Practice modules throughout the programme you will be expected to collate a portfolio of contextual evidence, which includes evidence of preparatory work, research work and pieces of reflective and discursive writing. Working with your Studio Practice tutor and the Head of Art History and Theory, at this Level you will gain knowledge and understanding of how the theoretical and conceptual concerns of your work sits within the context of wider discourses, critically discussing your work and concepts with your tutors and your peers. In addition, you will be required to undertake a written review of an exhibition relevant to your Studio Practice work in Term 2. Emphasis is placed on the synergy between research, theory and practice.
To support your Studio Practice work, you will undertake two or three elective skills workshop courses each term if you are studying full time. Skills workshops focus on building upon essential portrait and figure painting skills, working in life classes with one or two models, whilst extending students’ vocabulary with experimental classes such as Self Portraiture, different approaches to paint application or a close examination of how to work from photographs. (A typical range of skills classes can be viewed here). A session in portrait sculpture is also offered, with optional further sessions, to enable students to develop an understanding of the three-dimensionality of a portrait head.
At The Academy we consider drawing an essential tool for all artists, and as such there is a compulsory drawing workshop one day a week during each term. You must also complete the Digital Development elective skills workshop course in either Level 4 or 5, which aims to teach the digital skills for the Professional Development Level 5 module. The other elective skills workshop courses cover a wide range of specialist skills, and you are free to choose within or across disciplines for your remaining workshops according to your interests.
The Level 4 Professional Development module will provide you with first-hand knowledge of the vocational opportunities available to you within the art world, creative industries and wider cultural environment. You will work with your peers towards the planning, curation, staging, management and promotion of an external public group exhibition and individually conduct research into a personally identified area of practice/ industry.
Year 2 (Level Five)
During year two there is a shift in emphasis towards greater self reflection and analysis. You will undertake the two Thinking through Practice Studio Practice modules, one in term one and one over terms two and three. These will provide you with the opportunity to make further connections between your embryonic Portraiture practice and art theory, identifying your core interests and intentions, and increasing your knowledge, understanding and analysis of wider contexts and critical discourses. Supported by your Studio Practice tutor and the Head of Art History and Theory, you will once again be expected to deliver a portfolio of contextual evidence as part of the assessment for each module, comprising evidence of preparatory work, research work and pieces of reflective and discursive writing.
Study at Level 5 requires an increased degree of independence. In the first of the Thinking Through Studio Practice modules, you will undertake a live commission, sourcing your own client, addressing the complex variety of issues involved in client tastes and sensitivities. The second project demands a more considered articulation of your practice and a detailed analysis of the wider context for the your work, including writing a short essay about this. This project leads in the final term to you undertaking a self identified and directed brief and creating a body of work for public exhibition at your graduate show.Elective skills workshop coursessupport the further refinement of your technique.
The professional Development module at level 5 is delivered via a mixture of lectures, seminars and tutorials throughout the year. This aspect of the programme is designed to offer the opportunity to acquire theskills likely to be needed for employment within the art world and wider creative industries. including promotional techniques, and skills associated with being self employed (such as how to invoice,understanding taxation etc).
The FD Portraiture is assessed by a board including members of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, with the highest proportion of the assessment focusing on the Graduate show. This is the highlight of each year at the Art Academy, with FD Portraiture students showing alongside FD Sculpture and FD Fine Art students, creating a varied, exciting and accomplished exhibition. The show attracts huge numbers of visitors, including representatives from the professional art world. Preparation for the show requires students to consider carefully all aspects of their practice, with a particular focus on how to present and curate their work, as well as how to promote themselves as emerging artists.
OPTIONAL Year 3 (Level Six)
Whilst the FD Contemporary Portrait programme is a two-year course full time (or four years part time), there is the option of a further year of study, which will top -up your Foundation Degree to a BA (Hons) and is aimedat enabling students better to reflect on the skills and creative insight gained during their previous two intensive years of study.
The emphasis at this level is on self directed studio practice, the exploration and development of individual interests and approaches to portraiture. Continuing support is provided in the form of regular group critiques and one-to-one tutorials as you explore further your own practice, refine your artist’s statement and fully prepare for the life of a portrait artist after leaving the Academy. Discretionary elective skills classes are available to enable you fully to hone techniques and approaches to portraiture within what is an especially technically challenging genre.