General Information

About LARA

The LARA (London Atelier of Representational Art), 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 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 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 help nurture this creative confidence we also encourage the student to apply their knowledge by exploring further techniques and media through quick drawing.

Working at LARA
  • LARA opens no later than 9:15am Monday to Friday and 9:45am on Saturdays.
  • Critiques start at 9:30am and you are expected to arrive in good time to prepare your materials for the day and be ready.
  • Lunch break falls between 12:30pm and 1:30pm followed by the afternoon session ends at 4:30pm. Short Course times may differ. 
  • 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. Do not take calls inside the studio.
  • Personal belongings should not be left at the studio. LARA will not be held responsible for the loss or damage of personal belongings.
  • 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.
  • All solvents must be labelled and locked away in the fire cupboards overnight. Avoid leaving containers with volatile solvents open for extended periods of time to prevent the studio environment from being flooded by unnecessary fumes. The use of fixative is only permitted outside the building, in the courtyard.
  • Please remove strictly your own tape marks from the floor on the last day of each pose, not those of other students.
  • At the end of each term, you are required to gather your output over the ten week period to be reviewed in an end of term critique.
  • After your final critique, please take your work home with you. Any materials and work left in the studio at the end of a course will be disposed of.
  • Eating and drinking inside the studio is discouraged. Please do not leave cups of tea and coffee around the studio as they can easily spill on drawings and paintings.
  • We do not currently provide a cleaning service. Please wash up your cups and clean up after yourself in the kitchen if you spill something! Paper cups are expensive and only provided for workshop students. Please bring your own mug to use in the school.
  • Smoking is strictly prohibited in the studio.
  • The priority of LARA is to create the best possible working environment for all students; persistent abuse of the rules may result in expulsion.
  • If you are studying the curriculum either full-time, part-time or on Saturday or Evening School, you can attend our Wednesday Drop-in Life Drawing and Friday Drop-in Art History (London only) free, and our Monday and Thursday Drop-ins (London only) half price (£5).
Model Room
  • The morning model poses between 9:30pm and 12.30pm. You are encouraged to arrive 15 minutes before class begins to prepare your materials and set up. Short Course times may differ. 
  • The door to the model room locks at the beginning of each session and does not open again until the next break. If you are late please respect those students, models and tutors who made it to class on time! Please do not try to gain access to the model room before the break. No knocking!
  • Class finishes at 16:30. You are expected to clear up and leave the studio by 17:15.
  • At the end of the pose at lunchtime and in the afternoon all model heaters must be switched off fully.
  • 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 10:35am is the long break and lasts 15 minutes. The same schedule is followed in the afternoon after lunch.
  • 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 sight-size 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. Sight-size 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.
  • No photographs are to be taken in the model room whist the model is in-session without express permission of the model.

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.)
Setting Up In Sight-Size
  1. Position your easel at a vantage point where you can see the model easily to one side of your paper.
  2. Now walk back in a straight line from the easel to a spot roughly equal to three times the paper’s greatest dimension Make sure you can see the whole model and your drawing without moving your head.
  3. Mark this observation point on the floor with masking tape and write your name on it in a bold marker pen. This will need to stay in place for the length of the pose so it will need to be taped well – but please don’t use duct tape!
  4. Make sure both easel and paper are perfectly vertical by holding a plumb line perpendicular to your line of vision and parallel to the side of your drawing.
  5. Make sure that your observation point, ‘trackline’ to your easel, and your working point (at the easel) do not clash with other students, and that you can all work comfortably side by side.
  6. Have your tutor check your set-up and positioning to make sure that you have it all correct. You are now ready to begin!
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’
  • Selection of flexible steel palette knives
  • Cold pressed linseed oil
  • Winsor 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 (As a cheaper and non-toxic alternative to Cadmium Red we recommend Winsor and Newton Scarlet Red)
  • Raw Umber
  • Ivory Black
  • Cobalt Blue

For painting materials, we recommend the following suppliers:

  • Michael Harding
  • Old Holland
  • C Roberson
  • Blockx
  • Vasari
  • Winsor and Newton
Student Safety Guide

Please read the Student Safety Manual before attending a course at LARA.