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Are there any age or experience restrictions?

There are no restrictions on experience. However, you have to be 16+ years to apply. Beyond that, there are no age restrictions.

Do you offer accommodation?

No, regrettably LARA is unable to provide students with accommodation, but we will try and help where we can.

I'm an overseas student, do I need a visa to study at LARA?

Yes,  most people, except citizens of the countries of the European Union, need a visa to study in the UK. Unfortunately LARA is presently not an accredited institution, as the cost of compliance with all the requisite paperwork is so high that we would have to drastically reduce the number of tutored hours, or raise the fees to an unrealistic level. Always check your status before setting out. For full information, see the Home Office website:

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General Information

the LARA Philosophy

The London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA), was established in response to the rarity of rigorous representational art education and is unique in the UK in its approach to teaching the most fundamentally important aspects of drawing, painting and sculpture from life. Inspired by the atelier method of instruction, the unique emphasis of the course is given to working directly from the live model in a continuous pose of no less than a week and up to a month under unvarying (natural) north light conditions, giving optimum time to observe the figure and understand how to see. Working with tutors 6 hours a day and using the “sight- size” technique we aim to teach essential concepts of proportion, line, gesture, form and light to best master expression of the human form.

The previously lost atelier method of teaching, passed down through generations of artists, provides the ideal environment for students and professional artists to perfect their skill. It is our belief that it is necessary to teach the grammar of drawing, thus giving the student the confidence to execute their ideas, whether they decide to become a representational artist, or pursue any alternative visual medium. To instill this creative confidence we encourage the student to apply their knowledge by exploring further techniques and media through quick drawing.

Sight-size history

Believed by some to have been invented in the 13th century, the sight-size drawing method first appears in recorded history in Roger de Piles’ Cours de Peinture par Principes of 1708. Still taught in classical ateliers, the method resolves many of the visual difficulties of drawing and painting from life. Simply put, it is a method of viewing one’s model and one’s drawing simultaneously, so that both images appear the same size. The artist stands a specific distance away to look, and then comes forward only to make the marks. Sight-size is usually taught to students in a way that incorporates measuring. The artist first sets a vantage point where the subject and the drawing surface appear to be the same size. Then, using a variety of measuring tools - which can include strings, sticks, mirrors, levels, and plumb-bobs - the artist draws the subject so that, when viewed from the set vantage point, the drawing and the subject have exactly the same dimensions. When properly done, sight-size drawing can result in extremely accurate and realistic drawings. It can also be used to draw the exact dimensions for a subject in preparation for a painting. Professional painters will in time, develop an ‘eye’ that precludes the need for measuring devices and plumb lines, but the observation method itself is not abandoned - instead it becomes second nature. Sight-size can be taught and applied in conjunction with a particular sensitivity to gesture to create life-like imagery; especially when applied to portraiture and figurative works.

Working in the Atelier

The atelier opens no later than 9.15. Critiques start at 9.30 and you are expected to arrive in good time to prepare your materials for the day and be ready. Lunch break falls between 12.30 and 13.30, followed by the afternoon session. Classes end at 16.30. The class should remain quiet and orderly during studio hours; mobile phones must be switched off or to silent, and equipment left in your allocated space. Personal belongings should not be left at the studio. Please leave the studio as you find it. Charcoal and pencils should be sharpened over the bin and care should be taken where you place your sharpening blocks and paint rags. Keep your easel clean and free from paint stains and charcoal dust, ready for the next person using it. Drawings, paintings, and boards should be left in their allocated places at the end of each session, and not allowed to clutter the studio. At the end of each trimester, you are required to gather your output over the ten week period to be reviewed in an end of trimester critique. After your critique, please take your work home with you. Avoid leaving containers with volatile solvents open for extended periods of time to prevent the studio environment from being flooded by unnecessary fumes. Smoking is strictly prohibited in the studio. At the end of the pose at lunchtime and in the afternoon all model heaters must be switched off fully.

Model room

The morning model poses between 9.30 and 12.30. You are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes before class begins to prepare your materials and set up. It is your responsibility to set up and maintain the pose before class. You are also responsible for keeping time and calling the breaks for the model. If the following class has a different arrangement of boxes, please be courteous and remove your set-up. Model sessions typically last 20 minutes, depending on the model, and are followed by 5 minute breaks. The third break at 10.35 is the long break and lasts 15 minutes. The same schedule is followed in the afternoon after lunch. For the majority of the year the afternoon pose begins at 13.30. During winter months when the light is scarcer this is typically brought forward half an hour to 13.00. Please respect the concentration of others; keep your mobiles set to silent and refrain from setting up your easel and equipment during the pose. If you are late to class you must wait for the next break to enter the model room. Due to the space consuming nature of the sightsize method, it is suggested, if possible, you do not leave and re-enter the model room whilst the model is posing, as you would likely interrupt the focus of other students. Take care not to obstruct the pathway between another student’s easel and their viewing spot, as this can prove extremely distracting. Sightsize is a method that requires a particularly high level of focus and concentration, so please consider those around you. Eating in the model room whilst the model is posing is considered disrespectful and is discouraged. Alcohol is similarly forbidden during class time.

Correcting the Pose

On correcting the pose If you notice a significant deviation from the original pose, feel free to suggest to the model corrective measures in an effort to control the pose. A consensus must be reached, however, with your classmates, and the model, to realise a solution that is beneficial for all. If the model experiences difficulty with the pose, bear in mind modifications to the original pose may have to be made. You are encouraged to approach and walk around the model in order to understand the form, however you are not permitted to touch the model. Neither are you allowed to take photographs of the model without their express permission. It is due to the democratic nature of the model room in which students are expected to work together and communicate that earphones and personal music players are discouraged, as they isolate individuals from the group. (Bear in mind a great deal can be learned vicariously from the examples made in the critiques of other students.)

Reading List


  • The Practice and Science of Drawing by Harold Speed, Dover Publications, 2003 [Required]
  • The Human Figure by John H Vanderpoel, Dover Publications Inc, 2000
  • Charles Bargue and Jean-Leon Gerome: Drawing Course by Gerald M Ackerman, Graydon Parrish, 2007
  • Figure Drawing for all it’s worth by Andrew Loomis, Viking Press, 1943
  • Life Drawing by George Bridgman, Dover Publications Inc, 1972
  • Master Class in Figure Drawing by Robert Beverly Hale, Watson-Guptill Publications Inc, US, 1991


  • Oil Painting Techniques and Materials by Harold Speed, Dover Publications, 1987
  • The Practice of Oil Painting and of Drawing as Associated with it by Solomon Joseph Solomon, Seeley, Service & Co, 1941
  • Velasquez by R. A. M. Stevenson, BiblioBazaar, LLC (10 April 2009)


  • Artistic Anatomy by Paul Richer, translated and edited by Robert Beverly Hale, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1971
  • Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist by Stephen Rogers Peck, OUP USA, 1982
  • Constructive Anatomy by George Bridgman, Dover Publications Inc, 1974
  • Human Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form by Eliot Goldfinger, OUP USA, 1992
  • Der Nackte Mensch by Gottfried Bammes, Dover Publications Inc, 2004 19

Materials Required


  • Sketchbook
  • Either wood pencils or mechanical 0.7mm clutch pencils in the following grades: 2H, H, HB, B
  • Nitram charcoal (vine) H, HB, B (can be purchased at LARA)
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Putty rubber/kneadable eraser
  • Sandpaper block for sharpening
  • Masking tape
  • Craft knife
  • Canson paper
  • Roma paper white (can be purchased at LARA)
  • Tracing Paper (different sizes)

Oil Painting

  • Wooden arm palette
  • Hog bristle brushes (a set of at least 8 ‘flats’, with some ‘filberts’ and ‘brights’) Brush Types
  • Selection of flexible steel palette knives
  • Cold pressed linseed oil
  • Windsor and Newton Sandsodor
  • Artist’s cold-pressed linseed oil
  • Zest it (for rinsing brushes)
  • Airtight metal brush cleaner
  • Stretched linen canvas or gesso panel - 18”x24” approx.

Colours for LARA palette

  • Cremnitz/Flake/Lead White (basic lead carbonate in oil)
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Cadmium Red
  • Raw Umber
  • Ivory Black
  • Cobalt Blue

For painting materials, we recommend the following suppliers:

  • Michael Harding
  • Old Holland
  • C Roberson
  • Blockx
  • Vasari
  • Windsor and Newton

What we teach you to do


Figure Drawing

Figure Drawing

Figure drawing is the basis of all good draftsmanship and drawing from life is the backbone of LARA’s process.

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Portrait Drawing

Portrait Drawing

Portrait drawing is an integral part of the LARA curriculum and students are encouraged to hire models throughout the program.

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Cast Drawing

Cast Drawing

Cast drawing informs all aspects of the curriculum and is where students learn foundational principals that apply to all aspects of their work.

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Cast Painting

Cast Painting

Cast painting provides the student with an introduction to working with oil paint and is the first painting stage of the program.

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Figure Painting

Figure Painting

Figure painting presents one of the most significant and difficult challenges posed by the curriculum.

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Portrait Painting

Portrait Painting

The portrait is an integral part of the curriculum and students are encouraged to work with portrait models throughout the program.

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Figure Sculpture

Figure Sculpture

Figure Sculpture can be studied in a two week intensive workshop structure.

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Portrait Sculpture

Portrait Sculpture

Portrait sculpture can be studied on weekend workshops or week long intensives.

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