Expressive portrait painting – colour and abstraction with Chris Gilvan-Cartwright

Painting - Subject Led

Ref: S2D11715

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About this course

Learn new approaches to portraiture through a series of mixed media, mark-making and painting from a live model, and explore bold and dynamic painting with colour and abstraction.

Course Description

On this expressive portrait painting course, you will explore how to capture the model with rich, vibrant colours and expressive painting processes. Led by an inspirational and enthusiastic tutor, you will create bold and brilliant paintings, and gain an insight into portraiture through colour and abstraction.

The tutor teaches innovative approaches to acrylic painting, using mixed media to improve your mark-making and painting repertoire. You will paint from a live model with a variety of long and short poses to explore bold and dynamic colour and imagery. The model will be set amongst coloured textiles and props, and you will be looking at incorporating an expressive twist to some of the poses that delve into composition and expression.

By the end of the course, you will have gained insights into expressive painting, have greater confidence in working with vibrant colour and abstraction, know how to make expressive portraits, and have a new range of working methods to help progress your painting processes.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • The model who will sit for the course.
  • Some paper shared amongst the group.

What students need to bring

  • Rags
  • Cling film to keep paints wet (optional)
  • Any other water-based paint materials and brushes

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • White Cartridge Paper 300gm
  • Brown parcel paper
  • Card canvas ready-made various sizes/boards primed
  • Acrylic paints and acrylic primer
  • Acrylic retarder/flow improver/GUC100/modeling paste
  • Brushes: A range of brushes (including large household brushes)
  • Water spray
  • Black Indian ink (water resistant) and coloured inks
  • Palette, palette knife
  • PVA glue or Pritt Stick
Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. Safety boots, if specified.


Chris Gilvan-Cartwright

Chris Gilvan-Cartwright, aka The Baron Gilvan, is a painter, performer and animator.
Graduating from Central St Martins he won the Royal Overseas League bursary to paint in India and Nepal. He designed the BBC Proms logos for two seasons, has exhibited extensively and performed at the Jerwood Gallery Hastings. Chris also trained at Kracow Academy of Fine Arts, Poland, and University of Brighton. He has taught over 20 years from Foundation to Degree level. Chris is a member of Central Illustration Agency and has illustrated 20 children's books, including 'Becoming Me', Frances Lincoln Publishing.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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