Diploma Program

The Norfolk Painting School Diploma

Learn how its done. Why can’t all schools be like this?

 Diploma 14 commencing January 2020 Full,  Diploma 15 commencing April 2020 and Diploma 16 commencing September 2020 now open for applications. 

Diploma In Painting : The complete technical, aesthetic and creative course in painting for serious artists

‘ The Diploma is the culmination of over a decade of course tuition and the distillation of the sum of everything I know about painting ‘ (Martin Kinnear. Course Director).


If you want to learn technical skills, improve your aesthetic judgement and develop your own creative painting style over a structured year then our diploma is for you.  You don’t need to be an accomplished painter to join. The Diploma raises the ability of experienced artists and sets new ones on the right path.

Unlike Masters and Degree courses, the Diploma has a strong taught skills element. Unlike Atelier courses it is thematically broad, offering skills, guidance and creative insights into both traditional and contemporary methods.  Many students come to the Diploma after taking degrees or finishing  study at a figurative atelier as a means of rounding off their painting education. 

Based around nine three day residential workshops and around a year of independent guided study, the Diploma is built around three trimesters. Trimester One focuses upon taught skills and studio craft and is designed to ensure that you understand and can use paint. Trimester Two moves those skills on by focusing upon developing your visual intelligence and aesthetic judgement, allowing you to make full use of Trimester Three which helps you to choose from the skills you have learned to build or refine your own style.  

Launched in 2014, the Norfolk Painting School Diploma attracts students from as far afield as Spain, North America, Africa and Scandinavia. We run two to three Diploma programs per year (depending on Martin’s painting commitments), and places are always in high demand.

Places are offered on a portfolio interview basis, with preference given to existing Norfolk Painting School students who have taken a core skills course such as Simply Oils, although we regularly accept exceptional students who have not yet been to the school.

Course Director Martin kinnear is a recognised contemporary oil painter, tutor and writer.


Anybody can take the Diploma, although most students take it to round off a degree an atelier course, or as the next step after taking our core skills courses. Most of our Diploma students are professional self representing artists and many of them go on to teach privately or at respected schools. 

Two of our Diploma students enjoy tea and a chat in our  student cafe between exercises.


The Diploma runs over a year, and includes nine three day residential workshops with Martin Kinnear at our Norfolk studio, plus structured painting assignments in your home studio between classes.

Each workshop is themed and includes a mixture of critique, technical painting and original creative work to incrementally build your ability over three trimesters.  Starting with a technical trimester the course explores aesthetics, and creative style development, making it a very rich and full learning experience.

All of our Diploma students receive a mixture of taught demonstrations, hands on tuition, active study tasks (painting full size studies after the masters), and creative painting exercises each month. In addition the Diploma offers access to a rich online resource for group critique, a full 30 lesson home study program, downloadable step by step painting exercises and a carefully curated reading and gallery visit list. Students describe it as being both immersive and transformative.   

Unlike degree courses there is a strong practical taught skills element. Unlike traditional ateliers the Diploma is very broad, embracing aspects of classical, modern and contemporary painting. 

Importantly, as the diploma focuses upon teaching the principles of painting, rather than a ‘house style’, students learn to use paint in their way , and develop their own creative vision. 

Those who can, teach. Martin Kinnear demonstrating traditional glazing skills, practical demonstration is at the heart of our courses.


Diploma courses are only available with Martin at his Norfolk studio, students travel to it from all over the world.

9000sq ft of dedicated purpose built studios. Excellent facilities come as standard. Students engaging with big ideas in the demonstration theatre.


To apply for a one to one Diploma interview simply contact jane@norfolkpaintingschool.com including a link to your current work. Alternatively we are always happy to schedule interviews for students taking a corse skills course such as Simply Oils during their time with us. If you would prefer, we also offer a special Diploma Taster and Selection day each year.

Each Diploma starts with a complementary orientation day, ideal if you’re new to the School, and we are always happy to advise on travel and accommodation arrangements.

All of the materials you need for and in the teaching studio are provided, including professional H frame easels, low odour Gamblin Oils, mediums and sundries. We also provide the services of fully trained studio assistants (all of whom are Diploma graduates), to help you at the School. As with all our courses  refreshments and a light lunch are provided each day. 

You will need to equip yourself to work between classes in your home studio with materials from the School shop, or your preferred art materials supplier. 

Course Director Martin Kinnear briefing the studio team. Diploma graduates (left to right) Karen, Emma, Silvi and Bryony. plus Monty our resident studio hound. Great help and advice comes as standard.


All three 2019 Diplomas are now full. We are taking applications for Diploma 14 , starting January 2020.

The Diploma is available with or without accommodation.  The 2020 Diploma fees are £7,350 residential and £6,270 non residential, with payment by deposit and three instalments.

To discuss a place on our Diploma and arrange a portfolio meeting with Martin  call Jane on 01485 528588

Student study after Rembrandt. This Diploma student went on to be selected to show in the 2019 celebration of Rembrandt at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.


‘What is our Diploma? Quite simply it’s the course I wished I could have signed up for when I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a professional oil painter. It’s a structured oil painting course designed to teach you the skills you need to develop and express your own creativity. It’s about thinking, about painting and about making changes for the better.

Does it work? Well the key to it was not just to teach a house style but whether we could create a course which allowed students to not only learn painting, but to do so in a way that allowed them to develop their own style.  Over ten courses in, every single graduate has learned to paint their way – so yes it’s a course in learning to paint like you – and there’s not many of those around.’

Course Director Martin Kinnear in his working studio.


  • Around a year of structured study in technical, aesthetic and creative painting skills
  • All of the materials you need in and for the workshops at the school
  • Nine three day workshops over three themed trimesters
  • Comprehensive printed notes on each workshop
  • An integrated and structured reading and further study program, for each workshop to enable you to deepen your learning if desired
  • Ten home study assignments, one linked to each session, including a pre course study
  • Online group forums including access to Martin’s 2008, 30 lesson Home Study course as an incremental structured reference for core skills exercises
Martin Kinnear in one of our three live feed camera equipped demonstration theatres


Our Diploma – now in its fifth year and fourth version is our definite course in painting and has a proven track record of transforming the painting of its graduates.  A full diploma prospectus in PDF format – is available from the School

What Our Students Say
“I just wanted to express my thanks and appreciation for your time and support during the Diploma it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done I had a wonderful time” Tom S Diploma 5
Norfolk painting school Diploma 9 student’s creative study from WS6 by E.P-Y
“When asked how I had found the Diploma course to date I replied that not only had it fundamentally changed my approach to painting in oils but that it had had a much wider effect on my life generally. I’ve become more focused, more disciplined as an artist. (I even call myself an artist!)
Martin’s teaching is delivered with humour, pace and generosity but above all, it is logical, well structured and supremely intelligent.
There are many Eurika moments for the competent students and the ‘debunking of mysteries’ for students new to painting.
Time and again during lectures, demonstrations and reading material, I found myself saying, ‘Ah, that makes sense’…
His support team are competent and patient and the ‘fellow inmates’ are there to encourage and cajole in real life and online.
The downside of a Kinnear course is it comes to an end so it really pays to dive in and ‘give it the big one’.” SF Diploma 8
“Very, very excited about term 2. I can’t remember when I felt so enthused about life, when I’ve had something of import to look forward to so much.
And it feel like something that’s for me. Not for the kids, or the ol’ man, or any other family..but ME!” SF Diploma 8
An introduction to the Diploma by Course Director Martin Kinnear
Catch Martin’s  next solo show at the prestigious Bowes Museum and Gallery from Nov 2020. The Diploma teaches you how to become a successful artist, not just a qualified one.

What is our Diploma? Quite simply it’s the course I wished I could have signed up for when I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a professional oil painter.

It’s a structured oil painting course designed to teach you the skills you need to develop and express your own creativity. It’s about thinking. about painting and about making changes for the better

Did I mention self confidence? Well it’s that too, our Diploma courses also encourage you to think deeply about your Art and learn to present it (and you) in a credible way.

I think it’s the best painting course you’ll find and because of that it’s important that we find the best students. Painters with potential – (although they can’t often see it ), open minds and a willingness to get involved and embrace new ideas.

For all of these reasons the Diploma is a selective course, so if you’d like to take part then read on before dropping me a line for a chat about your work and what kind of painter you want to become.

Norfolk painting school Diploma 9 WS6 student’s creative study  by L.H

How it works with you

Make no mistake about it, the Diploma is a big course, but it’s also designed to work around your family and work commitments.

The course runs over a year, during which you’ll attend nine residential workshops in Norfolk  and be set a few hours of independent painting to do each month – although most students do as much as they possibly can.

‘A few hours’ means two paintings by the way – one based upon the skills I taught you in the last workshop, plus a second original piece using the ideas you drew from it.

Practical workshops lie at the heart of the Diploma, each month you’ll be presented with a theme such as ‘How to paint light’ backed up by hands on technical session, Art Historical context and have group moderation of your works

Group sessions are key to your personal creative progress and run parallel with any group study I set. At each session we’ll discuss how the last workshop has fed into your personal style. Some of the skills you learn will be merely interesting, but others will transform your thinking, and change your style.

Technical study sessions ensure that you build up a set of practical skills: Gesso, Grisaille. Ébauche. Imprimatura, Camïeau, will become practical skills you can call upon not just jargon.

Apart from the painting you’ll get involved with everybody else in the group via our online Diploma Forum, where you’ll find set topics as diverse as comparing Mondrian and Matisse or find technical resources on glazing or gesso.

A Snapshot of Student Works

What goes on at the Diploma, and what can you expect? Each month students create both Active Studies after well known painters and their own  Creative Studies based on the skills they have learned. Here is a selection of creative studies from Diploma 9 at the conclusion of trimester 2.

You’ll see straight away that there is no ‘house style’, no limits to your personal expression and no right way to do the course. By teaching principles rather than a  pre- set style the Diploma can teach you to paint like you, not me or anybody else; and that’s all one can hope to ask from a course.

Norfolk painting school Diploma 9 WS6
Norfolk painting school Diploma 9 WS6
Norfolk painting school Diploma 9 WS6
Norfolk painting school Diploma 9 WS6
Norfolk painting school Diploma 9 WS6

Joining Us

Diploma 11 starting January 2019: Full

Diploma 12 starting end January 2019: Full 

Diploma 13 starting September 2019: Full

Diploma 14 starting January 2020 : Open for Applications

Everything was contemporary once, This student had never studied in oils before joining our 2017 program.
Learn how you paint; there is no house style on our Diploma, we simply give you the skills and direction you need to discover your creativity. Large format Oil on paper from our 2016 program
Each month you’ll be encouraged to produce a body of work aimed at helping you to find your creative vision and refine your technical style. Various works by Salona White 2016. Diploma 4.
Where will it take you? One of our international students discussing her encounters with the dark expressive style of Goya.