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Figure Oil Painting

Figure Oil Painting

Central Saint Martins
Taught by
Guy Noble


You will be encouraged to explore all the techniques that oil allows for painting the figure. Life painting has been a central preoccupation for artists for hundreds of years and continues to fascinate new generations. This incredible tradition has produced images as varied as paintings by Michelangelo to the extraordinary work of Picasso. This course will equip students with both practical know-how, a deeper understanding of this tradition and of how contemporary artists work with a life model.

Topics covered

  • How to apply colour, texture and layers to figure painting
  • Colour: mixing and practical aspects of colour theory and examine its usefulness
  • Scale: how the size and scale of the image affects the work
  • Composition: how to arrange the model on the canvas
  • Drawing with paint: the relationship between drawing and painting

Over the first 2 days we will make several small paintings exploring the areas outlined above working with the model in the studio. We will also visit a gallery, either the Tate or National, and look closely at some examples of figure painting.
Over the following 3 days we will have one model assuming the same pose. This will allow us to develop a single painting that breaks new ground for each student. 

Level: The course is suitable for students of all levels, including those with some previous experience. Numbers are kept to a maximum of 15 (sometimes fewer), which gives time for the tutor to go round and give one-to-one advice according to individual needs.

Who should take this course?

  • Students with some previous experience who want to learn new techniques to push their practice further
  • Undergraduate art and design students wishing to improve their painting skills
  • Those who want to strengthen their skills and portfolio in order to apply for study at art colleges
  • Beginners are welcome

Entry requirements: None

Related courses

Students doing this course and wanting to improve their oil painting skill further may be interested in taking also our other oil painting courses focusing on alternative subjects: Still Life Oil Painting and Landscape Oil Painting.

More information about Guy Noble and his teaching at Central Saint Martins is available on his Facebook page.

Please note: This course is for students aged 18 and older

Tutor Description

Guy Noble is an experienced tutor and a practising artist who has exhibited internationally. He studied at the Byam Shaw, Spain and Italy. Guy teaches a number of drawing and painting courses at Central Saint Martins, including Introduction to Drawing and Painting and Personal Inspiration. You can check his website at



Please bring to the first class:

  • Five stretched primed canvases measuring 20 x 24 inches approximately.
  • A full range of Artists' oil colours: White, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Venetian Red, Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, Veridian Green, Sap Green, Colbalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Cadmium Red, Windsor Violet, Cadmium Yellow & Lemon Yellow, Winsor Orange and Raw Umber
  • Palette
  • Purified linseed oil.
  • Odourless mineral spirit: Sansodor, Shellsol T or Zest-IT.
  • Brushes and kitchen roll.

Note for all courses: Use of turpentine or white spirit is not allowed. Vegetable oil is a cleaner, cheaper, safer and odour-free alternative. It is also environmental friendly and safer for people with skin allergies


Available dates