Patch and Foxgloves……

I have a new student who has just sent her first set of work in for the Pet Portraits Diploma course and i felt that the ‘about you’ piece that I ask students to create was so wonderful I wanted to showcase it here on the college news blog. I asked Sandra if she would be able to write something about it and she was thrilled. I hope you all like the artwork and are inspired to pick up your pencil!

This is how the picture started and how it was put together. I spent a few days pondering about what to draw and how to condense all the things I loved into one picture. I wrote a few lists and in the end picked three items. My garden (full of flowers), Bumble Bees (the reason I planted the flowers) and Patch my cat – after all I am doing a Pet Portrait course and I see him more than I see my husband.

I then spent the following Sunday afternoon chasing my cat and bumble bees around the garden with my camera. I had just planted some lovely foxgloves which I bought from a car boot sale and thought they would make a nice backdrop for my picture, also giving my bumble bees something to land on.

After printing out my photos in grey scale and to the size I wanted, I used a piece of tracing paper to map out my design. I always use tracing paper because it can take endless rubbings out and I can lay it over images to find the best possible composition. Once I was happy with my line drawing I photocopied it onto a piece of printer paper. With this image I worked out where all my darkest darks and my lightest lights were going and blocked them in roughly on my printout. This gave me the basic plan for my picture.

After that I transferred my image onto some cartridge paper (BIG MISTAKE should have used hot pressed watercolour paper). I went back to my reference photos and carefully drew in all the details using lots of different grades of graphite pencil. 20 Hours later there it was.

I enjoyed the whole process immensely and look forward to the next challenge…….COLOUR.

Paint brushes at the ready,
Sandra (Pet Portrait Diploma)

London Art College Competition 2012

Calling all students – submit one of your own favourite pieces of artwork to our London Art College 2012 art competition. Submit your entries today!. If you have any queries regarding how to submit your artwork please email

  • Competition open to current students and those who have completed since September 2011
  • Students may enter any drawing or painting they have created
  • All submission via email no less than 1000pixels wide
  • Title your email ‘Art Competition’ & email to
  • Please provide the following details – Full Name, Address & Telephone, Course & Student Number plus Title & Medium of Piece
  • Winner receives £200 in Amazon Vouchers/ runner up receives £50 in Amazon Vouchers

The New Photography Diploma is now available…

The new Photography Diploma Course is now open for enrollment! Working with a college that is dedicated to and understands what being creative means, can only widen your horizons!

The Photography Diploma course offers support as you learn the basics of photography and how to get the best from your camera. Access to a DSLR will allow you to get the most from the course, but any camera where full control e.g. manual control is selectable will be suitable. If you are not sure whether your camera is right for the course, please ask. Unfortunately, as manufacturers strive to make cameras, especially DSLRs, more user-friendly, they only manage to make them increasingly complicated – they don’t need to be!

If you are motivated and can organise some quiet study time, this beginner’s course, in four sections, will help you understand your camera and all the basic techniques, as well as the slightly more advanced ones. Fun but well-designed assignments are used to improve your skills and allow you to demonstrate your abilities and creativity without the restraints of academic (and, to be honest, rather boring) regulated qualifications!

Rona Cox, your tutor, looks forward to being able to welcome and work with you soon and help you to enjoy this wonderful (but sometimes frustrating) subject where art and science combine.

Written by Rona Cox
Photography Diploma Course Tutor

Sink City Student Artwork…….

Maggy Roberts, the Illustrating Children’s Books tutor, asked one of her students to email her work to me to post on the college news blog and in the student gallery. The ‘Sink City’ artwork is fantastic and so I emailed Emma to find out if she could write a little about the artwork and her thought process behind it. I think Emma has created a very successful double page spread illustration and I hope that students here find it inspiring. Id like to thank Emma for writing about her work, you can view the full painting at the bottom of the post and two close up versions in between Emma’s text.


Hello! This painting was for the second brief of the Children’s Book Illustration course; Sebastian’s Sink City, which needed to be a detailed picture of an imaginary city beneath the sink, where structures and buildings could be depicted by household items you might find beneath a sink, such as squeezy bottles – and inhabited by little imaginary creatures. I approached this project with trepidation as it’s very much out of my comfort zone in terms of the subject matter, but I found I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this challenging brief – and it certainly was a challenge. Perhaps the hardest part was the composition of the entire piece and where to put everything. There was a lot of head scratching just getting the drawing right before I even thought about putting any paint on it – at one point I even drew some squeezy bottle towers on scrap paper and cut them out and lay them on the floor in front of me, swapping them about to see which way they looked best.

The underneath of most household sinks tend to be quite gloomy, but I wanted this picture to be the opposite of that; bright and colourful and energetic, something that would catch the eye of a child and hold their interest. Fairly early on I decided I wanted the city to have a really fun ‘holiday camp’ feel to it, so I turned the pipes into flumes to give them a water park effect, and added an ice-cream parlour as well. Then I added a few apartment blocks made out of squeezy bottles, and for fun I put in a cable car made from bottle tops. I also painted in a pipe through which little cars were zooming, and again bottle tops with little wheels added were ideal for those.

The little alien characters were great fun to paint; from the beginning I knew I didn’t want them all to look the same, so I made them all different colours and added swimming costumes and clothes with all kinds of patterns, and I made sure they were doing a variety of exciting things, from volley ball to swimming, eating ice-creams and whizzing around on swings, cleaning windows and even pushing baby aliens in prams. Part of the brief was to inject plenty of detail into this picture, and I kept on adding aliens until they filled every corner.

The painting is acrylic on thick paper, painted over a pencil drawing. I found colouring this quite difficult, because there were so many parts to it, and I wanted the colour to look well balanced and bright and varied, so I started off by doing a few pale washes of colour over the larger background areas, painting over anything that didn’t look quite right. I continued to build the painting up in layers, until the colours were opaque and smooth. I used fine detail brushes between sizes 00 and 02 to paint the aliens and other small details such as windows etc. I gave everything a fine outline in a slightly darker colour than the ‘fill’ colour, just to keep it sharp and make everything clear.

At one point I stood back from the picture and felt it looked quite flat, and so spent some time adding more shading to every part of it, which helped. Because it’s such a busy piece I was worried I might have overlooked some detail of it, but eventually I had to make myself put the paintbrush down as it’s the sort of picture you could always keep adding to and the risk is to go too far and spoil it. I definitely found this second brief more difficult than the one before, but it was a great learning curve in terms of constructing a scene, and I’d never painted this sort of subject before, so it has taught me a lot. A tricky project, but very enjoyable.

Emma Taylor (Illustrating Children’s Books Diploma D6)

East London Comics Arts Festival

We have received an email from ELCAF – East London Comics Arts Festival who are promoting their exhibition and event. We hope that those who live near or in the area interested in illustrating, cartooning and comic artwork will pop along to enjoy the show.


ELCAF 2012, the first East London Comics and Arts Festival will take place this year on the 17th of June in the fantastic venue The Village Underground in London’s Shoreditch. The first edition of the festival will aim to showcase the plethora of youthful talent in the comics and graphic art scene in London and the UK and also to bring something fresh to our locals by drawing talent from abroad to take part in the event, inviting exciting new collectives and publishers from Europe and the wider world.

Rammed with exciting programming for people of all ages, the events space will offer immersive encounters with the fascinating worlds of illustration and comics, while the fair will provide you with a unique opportunity to pick up affordable art and prints, the full gamut of comics and graphic novels and even the occasional hand made toy and t-shirt. The space is fully equipped with a refreshment booth with coffee, drinks and snacks and plenty of bathrooms for afterwards.

Full list of exhibitors (including Blexbolex, Tom Gauld, Nobrow, Blank Slate Books, SelfMadeHero, Jonathan Cape and many others) :

To find more about this event, please go to

Wonderful piece from a Drawing & Painting Diploma student

I asked Evelyn if she would mind us putting her portrait on our college news blog and she was delighted. Evelyn has written about her self portrait below. Evelyn’s painting is absolutely superb, I hope that our students reading this are inspired!


I have just completed the Drawing and Painting Diploma Course. The final assignment of this course was to paint a portrait in any medium. I decided to paint a self-portrait. I took several photos, chose one that I felt had the right expression and painted from that, making some modifications along the way.

As I am half Taiwanese, I have always been fascinated by Taiwan’s indigenous culture. I was inspired to try to give my portrait this ‘feel’ and so I painted the clothes, colors, hairstyle, and background accordingly.

The painting process was an extended one. I used three mediums in the painting: pencil, acrylics, and oils. I first made a drawing on the canvas using HB pencils, which enabled me to fix errors and make sure I had all the proportions right. I then sprayed the drawing with fixative— this was a big help as it prevented pencil smudges from mixing with the paints.

Next I painted a tonal under-painting in burnt umber and white, using acrylic paints. This took more time than I’d expected but proved to be very beneficial as it enabled me to concentrate on capturing the graduations of light and shadow without having to simultaneously think about the colors.

I then painted the colors over the under-painting using oil paints. I struggled with the color scheme, especially in the skin tones. There are just so many subtle variations of color in human skin and I had to learn to work patiently. I also found it challenging to paint the background colors so that they wouldn’t be too vibrant and steal attention away from the face.

For me, this portrait was the most difficult assignment of the entire course, but eventually it came together nicely. Looking at a finished painting is such a rewarding feeling and makes you almost forget the frustrations and challenges along the way. I learned so much through taking this course and feel it was a very worthwhile investment and learning experience for me.

Evelyn (Drawing and Painting Diploma D1)