Years 3 to 6

Our engaging Gallery based sessions are designed to raise pupils’ curiosity and build their confidence in looking at and responding to portraiture. Discussion-based activities are designed to develop pupils’ critical thinking and enquiry skills. Drawing activities support learning in the sessions.

90 minutes – unless otherwise stated
One class, maximum 30 pupils
All materials are provided

FREE (unless otherwise stated) Cancellation and non-attendance charges apply. See terms and conditions. Booking Essential.

Going for a Walk with Andrew by Howard Hodgkin, 1995-1998 Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Gift of Judy and Kenneth Dayton, 2002 © Howard Hodgkin

Going for a Walk with Andrew
by Howard Hodgkin, 1995-1998
Collection Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Gift of Judy and Kenneth Dayton, 2002
© Howard Hodgkin

Children’s Art Week
Howard Hodgkin: Making Friends Workshop

Full day workshop: 10.00 – 14.30
Suitable for Years 4, 5 ,6

£90 per class 30 pupils – price includes exhibition entrance

Celebrate Children’s Art Week and come on this full-day practical workshop inspired by Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends (includes a visit to the exhibition). Pupils use memory, emotion and colour to create their own visual language using experimental approaches to portrait making.

All sessions are fully booked

Jean 2015 by Jean-Paul Tibbles 2015 @ Jean-Paul Tibbles

Jean 2015 by Jean-Paul Tibbles
@ Jean-Paul Tibbles

Pupils' Choice: BP Portrait Award 2017

Bring your KS2 pupils to explore the portraits in this year’s BP Portrait Award 2017 exhibition and consider the selected competition entries asking questions including;

What are the challenges of painting a portrait? What does an artist need to know about their sitter? What does it mean to paint someone ‘from life’? How is the competition judged and who would your pupils have picked?

This interactive session takes place in the exhibition and education studio spaces and includes both discussion and short drawing activities.

Sessions are 2 hours, available 10.30 – 12.30

All sessions fully booked

(John) Peter Warren Cochrane
by (Gordon) Howard Eliot Hodgkin
NPG 6888

Self- Portraits

How have artists chosen to represent themselves from the past to the present day? What are the challenges of self-representation? A series of short drawing tasks help pupils consider different techniques, styles and media, Pupils applying an artist’s creative and critical thinking collecting ideas which can be further developed back in the classroom.

Modern and Contemporary - Colour, Expression, Form

How is colour expression and form used in modern and contemporary portraiture? Looking at developments in use of media pupils learn to ‘think like an artist’ considering their critical and creative choices in conveying the life of the sitter. Through questioning, discussion and a series of short drawing tasks pupils collect ideas that can be further developed back in the classroom.

Session not available during the Summer term 2017 due to room closures.

Getting the Message

How do you ‘read’ a portrait? What is the message within the image? Pupils analyse the artist’s creative choices in portraying the personality and life of the sitter in a historic portrait. Through pose, gesture, setting and objects, pupils apply their knowledge of how composition and symbols can convey a message in a series of drawing exercises.

Years 3 to 4: Regency portraits
Years 5 to 6: Reynolds and his contemporaries

King Henry VIII
by Unknown Anglo-Netherlandish artist
circa 1520
NPG 4690

Questioning the Tudors

What purpose did portraits serve in Tudor times? How were they made and who for? What information do they tell us about the past? Starting with portraits of key Tudor personalities, pupils consider the importance of portraits as evidence. Pupils develop their historical enquiry, questioning and reasoning skills learning how to ‘think like a Historian’ building confidence in asking key questions and giving supporting evidence for their ideas.

**This session is only suitable for classes who already have some initial knowledge of the Tudor period. It does not include a drawing activity**

The Real Tudors – Workshop

How were Tudor portraits made? What evidence tells us this? How does the Gallery conserve them? Pupils learn about Tudor methods of making a portrait and how the Gallery cares for the oldest part of the collection in this hands-on session in the Gallery and Education Studio spaces.

Sessions are 2.5 hours, available 10.00 – 12.30 on the following Wednesdays:

All sessions fully booked

Emmeline Pankhurst
by Georgina Agnes Brackenbury
NPG 2360

Noteworthy Women (Y4, Y5 + Y6)

What challenges have women faced and overcome? What have the women on display achieved that is inspirational? Looking at a series of portraits of pioneering women pupils consider their achievements, discussing the importance that portraiture has to play in maintaining their legacy the class is invited to decide which historical woman they would choose to be represented on a banknote and why.

10.30 -12.30, 120 minutes
Session available on the following dates only.

All sessions fully booked

Power and portraits

Discover powerful people from the past to the present day – Monarchs, Politicians, Celebrities. Pupils explore the changing nature of power in the country and consider and the role portraiture plays in communicating power.

How did Victorians see themselves?

Come and explore the Victorian galleries and consider how the Victorians viewed their world. What are the similarities and differences between modern day visitors? Whose achievements did Victorians celebrate and why? What impact did these people have on our world today? Pupils investigate Gallery spaces and consider how Victorian Britain is evidenced in portraits.

**This session is only suitable for classes who already have some initial knowledge of the Victorian period. It does not include a drawing activity**

NEW - How do we see ourselves?

How do we see ourselves? How do we see others? How are we seen in the world around us? Pupils explore multiple layers of their identity inc; emotions, beliefs and cultural background. Collecting ideas pupils ask how communities can be portrayed visually using symbols, colour and form, reimagining an alternative to the traditional school class portrait.

All sessions fully booked


Focus on Features

10.00 – 12.30

£60 per class of 30 pupils
(60 minute artist-led session followed by structured self guided activity in the Gallery)

Master portraiture drawing skills on this portrait artist-led drawing session focusing specifically on how to draw features. Pupils learn easy to follow steps in portraiture, collecting tips and tricks that will immediately improve their portraiture skills and impress their friends and family. This interactive lecture theatre session focuses on portraiture drawing skills leading to a structured self guided visit of the Gallery.

Max 90 pupils

No more sessions remaining for summer term 2017

Frank Auerbach
by Frank Auerbach
NPG 6611

Exploring Drawing

Bring your pupils on Artist led drawing sessions that take place in the Gallery spaces. Pupils explore a range of drawing and mark making techniques. Learning traditional and experimental approaches to expression, emotion, gaze, pose, gesture. This drawing workshop builds pupils’ confidence in observational drawing and responding creatively to portraits. 1.5 hours. Session available on the following dates only

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Making Faces

How can you make a 2D image into a 3D portrait? Pupils explore a range of experimental making techniques in this artist-led 3D making sessions. Learning experimental and abstract approaches to creating expression, emotion, gaze, pose, gesture in 3D. Session takes place in front of portraits in the Gallery spaces. 2 hours Session available on the following dates only.

Friday 23 June 2017

Creative Storymaking: Portraits come alive

Through the use of tableaux, drama and dialogue, pupils use portraits of interesting people with adventurous and surprising lives as a springboard for their own imaginative open-ended approaches to oral storymaking.


Sing a Portrait

National Portrait Gallery and English Touring Opera team up to use portraits as a springboard to inspire a new musical composition. Exploring one portrait in detail , pupils follow their imagination and interest to create and perform a unique composition in front of the portrait that inspired their music.

10.30 to 14.30 with a break for lunch (not provided)

Sessions available on the following dates only

Tuesday 23 May 2017
Wednesday 24 May 2017
Thursday 25 May 2017

One class, maximum 30 pupils

Fee payable to English Touring Opera

For more details on Sing a Portrait, including costs, and all bookings please telephone English Touring Opera on 020 7833 2555 / daniel.coelho@englishtouringopera.org.uk

Image banner: Photograph Marysa Dowling ©National Portrait Gallery, London

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