andrew james course

Expressive Oil Portraits

An intensive 3 day oil painting course built around expressive portraiture tutored by Andrew James R.P.

Andrew James Self Portrait

Andrew’s book on self-portrature

Andrew is a highly sought after Artist and tutor, who has worked on many prestigious commissions of public figures. Winner of the Carroll Foundation Award in 1998 and of BBC’s Star Portraits, Andrew was elected Vice–President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 2008 and has recently published a book on self-portraiture (which I can recommend).

Andrew tutors an intensive oil portrait painting course in Portishead, just outside Bristol. The course is for a small group of nine students allowing time for personal guidance to develop your ability. The course is built around expressive portraiture. Observational work set up to enable the formal qualities of oil paint to become a more explicitly descriptive medium and asserting a more active form of observation and connection whilst still capturing a likeness.

The Andrew James Expressive Portraits course in Portishead has now run successfully fifteen times and is returning in the Autumn of 2022.

The prices for the 2022 courses are £300 for the three days. Further schedule and location details are included below along with review comments from previous years.

There are two course dates.

  • Sunday to Tuesday 9-11 October 2022. 1 day sketching and 2 day pose. Course schedule as outlined below.
  • Weds to Friday 12-14 October 2022. Note that this course will be a three day pose with a single model allowing time for full resolution of your portrait.

The course day runs from 9.00am to 4.00pm.

If you are interested in either or both courses or want to be added to the waiting list, then please email me using the contact box at the end of this page.

Note that previous experience of painting portraits or lifeclass studies in oil paint is a pre-requisite to getting the most from the course.



Why did I get involved? I met Andrew at his exhibition in London and queried why he taught portraiture in Umbria but not in Britain. He said if you organise it I’ll turn up, so here it is.

Feedback from previous courses…

“He’s so tuned in to each individual artist, and pushes or coaxes everyone in the right direction…”
“I felt that Andrew very cleverly tailored his advice for each artist, and that’s surely the mark of a great teacher.”
“He has a totally non-judgemental approach, which allows participants of widely differing ability and experience to relax. His whole approach is non-competitive. But despite this he gives very considered and incisive advice and feedback to each person as they work.”
“Watching Andrew was a masterclass and the relaxed environment made for a great studio atmosphere.”
“I really felt inspired by Andrew’s teaching. He seems to get right inside your head and gives you new perspectives. I couldn’t wait to get painting when I got home and feel I’ve got some fresh avenues to explore.”
“I honestly think he’s one of the best portrait artists in the country, and he happens to be a great teacher and lovely man”
“I thought Andrew was superb – intelligent, open, honest, articulate, funny, patient, tactful yet challenging and extremely supportive – providing us all with ways forward that suited our abilities and levels of expression – which is a rare capability in many art tutors let alone well-known artists.”
“I have been on one or two courses previously.This was the best by some distance.”
“I felt like I learned more in 3 days than I did in 3 years at college”
“Andy was such an inspiration and such a nice guy with it. The group was also brill to work with, so so much talent!!”
“liked the venue a lot, partly because of it’s location by the estuary and the curlew accompaniment”
“cakes were stunning even though I shouldn’t eat cake”

Some of Andrew’s demos from previous course in the slideshows.

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plus student work …

Location – Portishead Yacht School Clubhouse link

A beautiful location overlooking the Severn, free parking on Belton Rd, park at end by coast, the Clubhouse is down a short path to the right. Postcode for sat nav BS20 8DR

Trailer of his Video

Course Schedule

Sunday to Tuesday 9-11 October 2021
Day 1. Model 1.

  • Drawing from model using charcoal.
  • Demo by Andrew in charcoal.
  • Drawing and painting from model.

Day 2. Model 2.

  • Approach to composition,
  • Demo,
  • Drawing from model to develop composition,
  • Begin final painting.
  • End of day demo or discussion as agreed by the group.
  • Optional evening group meal with Andrew in local area (not included in price)

Day 3. Model 2.

  • Further work on final piece
  • End of day constructive crit session

Material List

Two or three canvases, a small and a medium or large. Large could be 24 x 18 inch, medium 16 x 20 inch and small, 12 x 16 inch. Andrew primes his canvases using standard acrylic gesso primer.
Turpentine (or your preferred solvent),
Hog Hair brushes,
Cartridge paper, pencils and charcoal.

Artist’s quality oil paints. Andrew recommends Winsor & Newton, Michael Harding and Sennelier artists quality oils.

  • Lemon Yellow (his preference is for Michael Harding Bright Yellow Lake),
  • Yellow Ochre,
  • Cadmium Red,
  • Orange,
  • Magenta or Alizarin Crimson,
  • French Ultramarine,
  • Burnt Umber and
  • Titanium White.
  • Bright Green Lake, (optional)
  • Naples Yellow, (optional)
  • Turquoise (optional)

Don’t forget artist’s quality paint goes a long way so 40ml tubes are fine unless you know you’re going to be very productive, get a large 200ml white tube. It’s not critical that you have all these exact colours as there will be some leeway and you’ll be able to have a paint squirt from someone if needed.

Tea and coffee will be provided. A fridge is available to store food for lunch in during the course and is more sociable then nipping to the shops for a sandwich each day.

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