Large scale expressive figure painting with Chris Gilvan-Cartwright

Ref: SLW32922

Book now

Places available

About this course

Make large scale paintings with a series of playful and inspirational approaches to painting from the life figure in order to create colourful, bold and expressive paintings using mixed media and acrylic painting techniques.

Course Description

This playful painting course explores expressive figurative painting in acrylics from the life model, with both nude and clothed poses, incorporating narrative backgrounds and theatrical make-up to gain fabulously bold, colourful, abstract and expressive paintings on a large scale.

The focus will be on colour, abstraction and mixed media techniques. You will start by making a series of quick drawings and studies from the life model who, throughout the course, will incorporate a theatricality to the poses to inspire your work. You will then move onto acrylic painting and explore abstract figurative paintings by looking at form, colour, texture and scale. The course will help you to explore making bold and colourful expressive paintings, experiment with mixed media techniques and work on a larger scale format.

You will broaden your knowledge of painting and increase your confidence in depicting the figure from both observation and abstraction. You will gain knowledge of different approaches and techniques to loosen up and improve your ability to work on a large scale.

Led by an inspirational tutor, you will be guided through demonstrations, exercises, discussion and one-to-one tuition, which will help you develop your painting and playful attitude to making work.

A playful and practical approach to painting from the model is encouraged on this partly structured course which covers:

Ideas and inspiration for being more playful and freeing up your approach to painting

Acrylic painting techniques/expressive mark-making

Painting from a life model

Line to colour and bold compositions

Larger scale painting

Form, colour and abstraction


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


  • On this course, the College will supply some materials, including large Fabriano cartridge paper rolls to share, newsprint paper, white emulsion paint, PVA glue, Pritt stick, charcoal, oil pastels, ink, masking tape and brown paper tape.
  • The model who will sit for the course

What students need to bring

  • Acrylic paint - white, black, plus include additional colours i.e. reds/ blues/ yellow, etc.
  • You will be working on a large scale so bring enough paint and a range of large-scale brushes and decorator’s brushes.
  • Optional: Any household emulsion paint colours (if you have any left-over colours to use up)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good range of art materials are available to buy, including acrylic paints, brushes and decorator’s brushes.

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals.


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.

Courses of interest

Painting inspired by Impressionism

2 to 8 Aug 2024 | West Dean
2 places available
Tutor: George Popesco |
Suitable for all

Abstract painting with mixed media

14 to 17 Jul 2024 | West Dean
Places available
Tutor: Helen Turner |
Suitable for all

Talkative colour

15 to 19 Jul 2024 | West Dean
Places available
Tutor: Maxine Relton |
Suitable for all

Sketchbook into paintings

25 to 30 Aug 2024 | West Dean
Places available
Tutor: Katie Sollohub |

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.