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Realism In Figurative Painting

Realism In Figurative Painting

Central Saint Martins
Taught by
Tutor to be confirmed


What does it mean to paint the human figure in a realistic way? In this course you will develop paintings from sketches, photographs or found images, experimenting with a range of image manipulation techniques that artists use for translating these sources into figurative work. 

You will be introduced to a range of relevant image-making strategies. That will be supported by reference to a variety of approaches to figure painting and how different artists have interpreted realism.

Topics covered

We will explore different ways of depicting a human figure. For some of the sessions we will have a life model to help you explore themes such as tone, perspective and texture.

We will refer to artists such as Francis Bacon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cecily Brown, Marlene Dumas, Judith Eisler, Lucian Freud and Luc Tuymans.

You will have a choice of working with acrylics, oils or mixed media.

Entry requirements: Some previous experience in painting or drawing would be helpful, but not essential.

Who should take this course?

The course will be of interest to art students wishing to explore issues around the meaning of realism in painting.

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

Tutor Description


Please bring the following to the first session:

  • If you have painted before, bring your own paints, this could be oils, acrylics, gouache etc.
  • If you are new to painting buy the following colours in either oil or acrylic paint: cadmium yellow, lemon yellow, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, viridian green, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, burnt umber, raw umber, white.
  • Brushes
  • Two jam jars
  • Kitchen towel
  • Palette
  • Palette knife
  • As painting supports, bring whatever you would like to use, or if you are unsure, bring canvas board or primed stretched canvas, hardboard or MDF; bring three supports or more, one of them at least size A2 (594 x 420 mm).
  • Sketchbook, any size or make
  • Pencils
  • Rubber
  • Sharpener
  • Charcoal
  • Scissors.
  • Notebook
  • Biro
  • Camera or camera phone

If you have any photographs, sketches, found images etc. you might wish to use as a starting point for a realist painting using the human figure bring those to add to the material provided by the tutor.

Optional: Bring images of five paintings by artists who have used the human figure in what you consider a realist way; try to find some images that have been painted during the last fifteen years. Bring colour copies of the images (roughly A4 size or bigger) and, if possible, information on the materials and processes used.

Available dates