Inspiring art workshops offer students a variety of approaches to portraiture

Inspiring art workshops offer students a variety of approaches to portraiture

25 January 2023

Portraiture was the focus of two recent art workshops, where students in Years 8 and 10 enjoyed learning very different approaches.

Year 10 portrait workshop with Woldingham’s artist in residence

On Tuesday 24 January, Eilise Lancaster, Woldingham’s artist in residence, ran a workshop for Year 10 GCSE art students, focusing on how to construct a portrait in stages.

Eilise began by introducing students to the anatomy of the skull and how to render details after building up the values within a portrait drawing. By studying the proportions of the human face, students learnt how to place the features within the head, and how to depict a sitter’s gesture. They explored how to capture likeness through using comparative measurement and how to observe abstract shapes of light and shadow to accurately render the way in which light falls across the planes of the face. By experimenting with a range of drawing materials, including graphite powder, charcoal and white chalk, the students produced portraits with a sculptural quality to them, with strongly rendered contrasts between light and dark.

By studying portrait drawings by a range of artists, such as Edwin Landseer and Nicolai Fechin, students saw how different artists from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have dealt with the challenges they were facing themselves when drawing a portrait.

The high quality of the students’ work showed how well they responded to the theories discussed and to the demonstrations. To conclude the workshop, the students, Eilise and Head of Art Miss Campbell discussed the work produced, with many students saying how much they had enjoyed the whole process of learning to construct a portrait.

Year 8 portrait workshop with Mr Jem Wraith

Year 8 had a lot of fun learning how to use expressive line to capture facial characteristics and expressions on Tuesday 17 January from Mr Jem Wraith, who studied at the London College of Fashion. In their two-hour sessions, the students worked through five activities, ranging from continuous line drawing to overlapping drawing on acetate. The two-hour sessions gave students plenty of opportunity for experimentation and the work produced (some of which can be seen in the gallery below) was varied and exciting. As well as taking students through his working methods, Jem talked to them about his studies and various design commissions. The students found the workshop very inspiring, as their feedback shows:

Sofia: I liked the idea that you can do so many things within art. I learned how to really use continuous line and blind drawing.

Chloe: I loved the opportunity to attend a workshop with a talented artist. I would love to do it again!

Cosima: I enjoyed using all types of media and looking at Jem’s art career and some of his amazing art pieces.

Georgia: I liked how we got to work with each other - it taught us how to work as a team.

Izzy: Jem’s explanation of his work was very clear. He helped lots of us around the room during the session. I have never done anything like this before and really enjoyed it.

Lara: The workshop kept me busy the whole way through! 

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