London-Fine-Art-Studios-FAQ

I would like to join the Studios but I have taken art classes before. Do I have to do the Foundation Course or can I join some of the other classes?

All newcomers who sign up for the regular term (10 weeks)*, no matter their level, take the Foundation Course. It covers the fundamentals of drawing and painting and introduces you to the school’s methodology.

You may find some elements of the training familiar, others less so. However, in our experience, everyone benefits from completing the Foundation Course as it ensures that we all share the same terminology and arrive more efficiently at the desired end.

*Those who sign up for a short course or workshop in the half-term breaks or holidays need not complete the Foundation Course.

I have never taken art classes before but have always been keen to do so. Are your classes suitable for complete beginners?

The Foundation Course is for the complete beginner. It is designed to give students a thorough introduction to the craft of drawing and painting. Newcomers are grouped together and as far as possible stay as a cohort throughout their training.

Instruction is given through 1:1 critiques as well as demonstrations. Students are also encouraged to observe their peers and learn from those around them. You can read about one student’s experience in our journal.

Ultimately our aim is to provide the best instruction in an environment that is conducive to your learning.

What is the typical student age? Is there an age limit?

There is no mean age or average student, they come to us from across the professional spectrum and of all ages. You are never too old and certainly not too young to learn!

There are those who have recently left school and consider their training with us as the equivalent of a BA.

Others, young professionals for example, are juggling their time at the Studios with a regular job. In some cases it marks a change of career and the return to an original love of painting and drawing.

There are also those who see their study as a precious bubble in an otherwise chaotic week laiden with family and work commitments. They cannot dedicate more than a morning, afternoon or evening but nonetheless are serious about their commitment and desire to improve. Equally, some are retired and choose to invest their time in fine art training.

We do accept students as young as 14 although parental consent is needed.

What sort of commitment does the Foundation Course entail?

The core Foundation Course consists of one 3-hour class a week. There are a number of times to choose from, however once you have selected the time that best works for you, you should stick to that schedule.

Foundation times as follows:
Mondays – 9.15am -12.15pm, 1pm – 4pm or 6.30pm – 9.15pm
Tuesdays – 9.15am -12.15pm, 1pm – 4pm or 6.30pm – 9.15pm
Saturdays – 10am -1pm

I would like to study between 1 and 4 days at the school. Do I have to have completed the Foundation Course before doing so?

If you sign up to one day or more at the Studios then you will be able to follow other classes alongside the Foundation module. This will include Cast Drawing, Still Life and Figure depending on the amount of time you sign up to.

Portraiture will be incorporated in the second or third terms depending on your progress and interests.

I would like to enrol on one of your short courses. Do I still need to have completed the Foundation Course?

For the short courses and workshops we do not require students to have completed the Foundation Course. Instead we ensure that part of the first day is spent reviewing the fundamentals in order for you to effectively move forward.

There is a 4-day Foundation Course in October and a 5-day Foundation Course in July.

In July there are four weeks of consecutive courses, either taken individually or as a full month. The beauty of signing up to the month is that you benefit from a very thorough and layered education in the different disciplines of drawing and painting.

What happens after the Foundation Course?

The Foundation Course provides a fantastic overview of the fundamentals of drawing and painting, but it also shows you how much more there is to learn! In the words of Aristotle: ‘The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.’

Having completed the 30 hours of Foundation in the first term, in the second term you will focus on the chiaroscuro and oil painting components of the Foundation Course. By honing your drawing skills and mastering the question of values, the transition to painting will be much smoother and your long term development stronger and more consistent.

If you have been with us for a term but undertaken more than the 30 hour Foundation Course you will continue with life and cast work with the option to enrol on Portrait, Landscape and/or Sculpture.

We encourage all students to discuss their progress with their tutor so as to determine what are the best next steps in their training.

What other classes do you have running in the week?

For those who have completed the 30-hour Foundation module there are a number of other classes to choose from as you gain in skill and confidence.

Advanced Cast Drawing – a smaller class size with a focus on developing a single cast drawing over multiple weeks. An opportunity to explore the potential of working in charcoal and push your draughting further.

Still Life – this class focuses more intently on composition and colour theories. Students learn the application of paint using alla prima / direct painting techniques before advancing to glazing.

Figure – all students work from the life model. Exercises range from short exercises to sustained poses working both in charcoal and oils.

Gesture & Anatomy – this course breaks down the human anatomy into parts and plains so as to better communicate form, movement and intention through your drawing.

Portraiture – students work in either charcoal or oils and working from the life model, students apply their understanding of the fundamentals to the portrait model.

Landscape – this involves a full day out in the parks each week. You will learn to deal with the swiftly changing conditions and light as you compose and capture the scene using direct painting techniques and glazing.

Sculpture – beginners and advanced levels available. Students will work in clay beginning with studies of plaster casts and progressing to figure and/or portrait from the life model. They will learn to build armature and work with texture.

Printmaking – this course covers the fundamentals of intaglio printmaking such as: soft and hard ground etching, dry point etching and aquatint printmaking. Students come with a design or drawing from which they will develop their work.

What medium do you teach in?

As a beginner and newcomer to the Studios students will work in charcoal for the best part of the first term. By week 6 or 7 (out of 10) they will start to work in oils.

However there is no obligation to make the transition so soon. Many students choose to carry on with drawing and some of our most accomplished artists spend two years working exclusively in charcoal before moving to oil paints. It is certainly true that the better your drawing skills, the easier it is to learn to paint.

It is also possible to work in pastels and pen and ink. Charcoal, pastels and oil paints are all sold in the Studios’ art store, Lavender Hill Colours. If you are keen to work in other mediums our teachers will happily advise you, even if it is not something that will be developed in the studio itself.

I am interested in enrolling in one of your courses but reluctant to pay the whole term upfront without knowing what it will be like. Can I pay for the first class and then decide whether to continue and pay the rest?

We try to be as accommodating as possible but we cannot offer the option of a taster class. This is because one three hour session is not illustrative of the course as a whole. We encourage you to visit the school, which will give you a good idea of our ethos and method. You can also watch this short video.

I have signed up to a weekly class and paid for the 10 sessions but I cannot make one of the classes. What can I do?

We understand that our students lead busy lives and for this reason we try to be as accommodating as possible. We do ask that you limit your catch-ups to 2 a term.

If you are enrolled on a weekday class and miss a session, we are happy to organise a ‘catch-up’. However, this must be on a Friday, either morning or afternoon.

If you are enrolled on an evening or Saturday class you can arrange to catch up on an alternative evening or Saturday morning.

Students are asked to email us to organise and confirm the catch-up time. Unfortunately, under no circumstances is it possible to carry classes over from one term to the next.

Do I commit to the course for a year or a term?

We receive applications on a rolling basis. This means that you do not have to wait until September to join our courses. Similarly you do not have to commit for the full year and can modify your timetable from one term to the next.

Once you are on the course you are given first refusal for the following term, this is to say that your space is reserved for you until we hear otherwise. However, given the demand for our courses, we ask that you let us know your plans sooner rather than later.

Places that are not confirmed by the end of term will be given up to those on the waiting list.

If you are unable to return for the consecutive term but intend to come back in the future you will be able to resume where you left off without having to complete the Foundation Course – unless you choose to do so.

Can I visit the school before committing to a course?

We encourage all those wishing to enrol on one of our courses to organise a time to visit, particularly those wanting to join full time. Visits are by appointment only, Monday to Friday, 11am or 3pm. To set-up a time please email: info@londonfineartstudios.com

By taking the time to look around the school you will gain an insight into the atmosphere, the community and most importantly the method. It also allows us to understand your motivation and goals as well as to address any outstanding questions you may have.

We do not believe in an arduous selection process, it is more important to us that you have the discipline to attend your classes and arrive on time, putting in the hard work where it is most needed. Only in this way will you progress.

I have paid for my course but am no longer able to attend, can I get a refund?

The Studios offer a range of courses and expert tuition at very affordable rates. We simply ask that all fees are settled, in their entirety, before the start of the course.

If, however, circumstances change and you are unable to attend and you notify us before the start of term we will refund the fees minus a £50 administration fee.

If you withdraw from a course, for whatever reason, after the course has begun we will refund 50% of the original payment.

Fees, as with classes, cannot be carried over from one term to the next.

How long does it take to graduate?

The duration and intensity of study will depend entirely on your personal objectives: is it a hobby or a career path, full time or part time? With this in mind you will be able to decide what the benchmarks for your time with us are.

Unlike with other professions, there is no absolute point at which you finish training and become professional. Instead you will find that the balance between school and personal studio time gradually shifts as you take on commissions and projects. Suddenly you will find that you have too much demand and not enough time!

Either way you will always find a supportive peer group and staff around you to help resolve some of the questions and uncertainties you may encounter.

Do I get some sort of officially recognised qualification at the end of the course?

London Fine Art Studios is an independent organisation not accredited by a national scheme or affiliated to a university. For this reason we do not offer an official certification or qualification.

Our focus is on providing the best possible training and support to our students: clear practical instruction and exposure to professional networks. The fact that we are endorsed by the de Laszlo Foundation amongst other galleries and museums is testament to the quality of the work we do.

What is the atelier technique? How is it unique to the school?

The atelier technique is an age-old tradition, artists like Sargent spent some of their most formative years in an atelier, learning alongside masters and developing their expertise through hard work and constant practice. You can read more about the atelier method and philosophy here.

In an atelier the tutor will work alongside the students so that they can learn through observation and critiques. It also means that the tutor will apply practical skills to the particular challenges of the exercise rather than relying solely on theory.

Tuition also comprises 1:1 critiques, which are regularly offered over the course of a three-hour class. The small group size (maximum 12) allows for plenty of valuable teacher-student time; it also ensures that everyone can benefit from the demonstrations. These are another important and distinguishing feature of our style at LFAS.

London Fine Art Studios is committed to teaching the concrete skills that are the bedrock of drawing and painting.

What is the typical student age? Is there an age limit?

There is no mean age or average student, they come to us from across the professional spectrum and of all ages.You are never too old and certainly not too young to learn!

There are those who have recently left school and consider their training with us as the equivalent of a BA.

Others, young professionals for example, are juggling their time at the Studios with a regular job.In some cases it marks a change of career and the return to an original love of painting and drawing.

There are also those who see their study as a precious bubble in an otherwise chaotic week laiden with family and work commitments.They cannot dedicate more than a morning, afternoon or evening but nonetheless are serious about their commitment and desire to improve.

We also have students who are retired and choose to invest their time in fine art training.

We do accept students as young as 14. Prior to the student attending Figure class, which involves working from the nude model, parental consent is needed.

We believe that these varied life experiences and perspectives can only serve to enrich your time and learning at the Studios.

Are materials included in the cost of the course?

Art materials are not included in the cost of the course although the initial drawing paper is provided. Aside from this you will need charcoal and a chamois, an investment of approximately £5.

As you progress you will need to work on textured paper and ultimately oils on canvas.

All the supplies are sold in our art shop, Lavender Hill Colours, as well as online. Founder, Scott Pohlschmidt sources the finest products from around the world, which we offer to students at subsidised prices. It is best to buy from the Studio shop so that we know you have the best products at the most affordable prices.

We regularly hold materials workshops and encourage students to attend as it gives them valuable and necessary knowledge on materials such as what to use, when, to what effect. Please check our website for the latest updates on courses and workshops.

What do I need to bring?

To begin with you will only need charcoal and a chamois, which you can buy for £5. We provide the brown paper to begin with. Then you will use more textured paper and by the end of the first term you will be using a limited colour palette of oils. Starter painting kits are on sale in our shop and online, here.

If you already have materials you are welcome to bring them with you and our teachers will advise where and if you need to supplement them.

How can I find you?

London Fine Art Studios is situated in the Battersea Business Centre on Lavender Hill. Buses (No. 87, 77, 156, 345) stop just outside the blue entrance gates and we are within walking distance of Clapham Junction Railway Station (15 mins) or Clapham Common Tube Station (20 mins).

Limited parking is available on a first-come-first-served basis, permits have to be purchased at a day rate from the business centre reception.

The little stuff is always the big stuff…

Where to eat

For those who are spending the day at the Studios, lunch is from 12.15-1pm.You are welcome to bring food with you and eat in the common room where you will also find lockers, fridge, kettle and microwave.

There are also many nearby convenience stores and cafés where you can buy lunch.Sainsbury’s and Tescos are a short walk down the hill, Asda and Whole Foods slightly further up towards Clapham Junction.In between these you will find myriad coffee shops eat-in or take away.

There is always a break at some stage in the class and you can buy your finest coffee or tea from us at the shop.Filter water available in the common room.

What to wear

The Studios will warm up over the course of three hours, however you may find it slightly chilly first thing in the morning.The best solution is to layer up so that you can peel the clothes off or pile them on as needs be!

However, do bear in mind that drawing and painting is a messy business so wear comfortable clothes that you aren’t worried about getting dirty, the same for your shoes.Standing up all day is no fun if your feet are hurting or cold.

If you are landscape painting then you will obviously need even more clothes!You would be surprised how cool a sunny spring day can feel when you are standing still for long stretches of time.

Where to keep my things

There are lockers in the common room where you are welcome to keep your materials.Students tend to claim one at the beginning of term and bring a padlock to keep their belongings safe.There is also a space for portfolios.

Students are asked to take all their work and belongings away with them at the end of term as the space is invariably used for short courses and other events throughout the year.Anything left behind at the end of term is either donated to charity, thrown in the bin or gessoed!

Where to stretch out

After a day of drawing and painting, to-ing and fro-ing with your shoulders up to your ears, there is no better release than yoga with Maria – every Tuesday 4.30pm.A class suited to all levels, Maria is a certified yoga teacher specialized in vinyasa and restorative yoga.