Figure & portrait

All-round course for portrait and figure drawing and painting

The focus of this course is on drawing and painting from life with your own interpretation of working ‘from nature’. You learn how to properly observe and study the model’s proportions, using various starting points like light and shadow, the rendering of surface texture with a variety of materials and the placing the figure within a space.

You will have the freedom to create your own interpretation of the model using various techniques and materials. Examples from both contemporary art and art history give a  frame of reference from which to glean new ideas and give insight into your own art.

You may choose to take this course as a follow-up to the foundation year, but this is not a specific requirement. There is a lot of personal guidance. The teacher will guide you at your own level. With a Pre-paid credit you can enter any time; take into account 5 euro model contribution per lesson. The model contribution is included in the price for the fixed course.

The curriculum follows no fixed order, but each lesson takes inspiration from a specific creative aspect. 

During the lessons the creative aspects that are covered include:

model in proportion

the human body

The aim of these lessons is to develop insight into the proportions of the human body. In particular, the training in observation is of great importance. The more you draw and study an object, the more insight you gain into the way something is constructed, thus enabling you to draw from memory. You work aided by a life-model as well as from (your own) photographs. Examples from art history will be given, from which you work with various drawing materials. With the use of contour lines, highlighting and creating depth you’ll learn to observe and depict the proportions of the human body.

details, hands and eyes

under the skin

In these lessons, you will concentrate on specific parts of the human body. For example, you’ll draw individual hands, feet and elbows etc., but also the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, eyebrows and hair. You’ll do this aided by a live model, as well as using your own body as inspiration. Gradually moving closer towards the skin, you will learn to observe, as if through a magnifying glass, a single finger, a nail or skin, and then draw or paint this in large format. You’ll be working on paper with drawing materials, watercolours and ink. In each lesson, you’ll investigate which material enables you to best portray the structure or surface texture of the subject matter and magnifying the separate body parts will provide you with new and exciting imagery.


figure and space

How does the composition add to the model’s expressivity in a work of art? In these lessons, you’ll investigate the various different possibilities for illustrating a figure within a space. What happens to the space around the figure and how can we position the figure in an exciting way in the space? Using various materials and techniques, you will create composition sketches, working with a model and investigating form and residual form. Following the example of various different artists, you will develop your own interpretations.


model in colour  

In these lessons, you paint a model using acrylics. First you make a number of sketches, in which you investigate the pose and composition on plain paper. Using a base-layer, you will then set up the light, dark and mid-tones of the model and the surroundings. Using this method, you’ll begin to develop a suggestion of space and volume, which can eventually be worked over in colour. You’ll also investigate how to effectively use warm and cool colours, and how to use colour and brush techniques to give a figure a particular expression. 


facial expression 

The focus in these lessons is on the face. We’ll be examining how artists such as Cindy Sherman, Marlene Dumas, Egon Schiele, Gilbert and George, Frieda Kahlo and Francis Bacon depict (self-)portraits. This focus forms the starting point in a series of portraits of yourself or someone else. We’ll use various, different materials and approaches to work with. You will also have the opportunity to project a photograph (of your own) onto a canvas, sketch in the painting loosely with a Japanese brush, Indian ink and charcoal, and then continue with acrylics or oil paint. We’ll also be paying attention to the anatomy of the face and how to depict an expression.


model and gesture 

The gesture is the focus of these lessons. Gestures from our daily lives or from other cultures and lifetimes. You’ll make use of photographs and reproductions from magazines or others you may have chosen. The model will copy the chosen pose or gesture. Then, while drawing, you’ll study not only the form (line and shading), but also the emotional intent behind the displayed gesture or pose. You’ll develop these observations using various drawing materials – pencils (soft to hard), charcoal and conté crayon. You’ll observe an interesting pose from all angles – as would a sculptor – and whilst drawing, make careful decisions as to what can be left out of the image.

Explanation overview below

The overview below shows two buttons:

  • the Classes button shows the overview of this week’s lessons for this course (not all courses).
  • The Courses button shows the start dates of the different classes. You can then click on Info per course to find the planning of that course.

Per overview you have an info and a reservation button. If you click on the Info button, you will receive extensive information about that specific course (including planning / teachers / model bookings, etc.).

If you click on the green button, you can register for the course, or register for certain lessons of the course if you have a Pre-paid card.

Mandatory reservation

Because of the Corona safety measures, Ateliers Westerdok is now set out with with fixed workplaces and walking routes to guarantee the 1.5m distance rule.

In the studio on the quayside, 14 workplaces have been prepared, with  11 in the studio on the sidestreet, so that we can   use the studio within the maximum number of participants (30 people, including models and teachers / leaders). Each workplace, marked with a cross on the floor, has its own easel, table and chair.

Everyone must register per lesson in advance via our booking system. For more information about our measures regarding Corona, click here