london atelier of representational art

Diploma in Fine Art A three year masterclass

Diploma in Fine Art
A three year masterclass

LARA's highly structured curriculum will you teach you the fundamentals of drawing and painting. You will be trained to an advanced level in skills that are transferable to any visual medium.

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Course overview

  • 3 Years Full-time
  • Part-time possible
  • Master Drawing & Painting
  • Receive tailored tuition

Course Introduction

The London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA) was founded in response to continuing demand from students for a structured approach to learning. The School teaches fundamentally important aspects of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture from life, through the 'Sight-Size' method, and uses a specific approach designed to teach the essential concepts of proportion, line, gesture, form and light. Inspired by the Atelier Method of instruction, LARA offers unique training in representing sustained poses of no less than one week and up to one month giving optimum time to observe and understand the figure. LARA's philosophy supports a return to discipline in art. By employing traditional, time-tested methods, LARA seeks not to return to the past, but rather to build upon it. We provide students with the opportunity to explore distinctive aspects of their chosen subject through the development of draughtsmanship, direct study of works and a practical understanding of the materials and methods of the artist. By this means and through the resulting identification of clear artistic objectives, students acquire creative self-confidence, and visual understanding with subtle and precise powers of description.

We teach the grammar of drawing. It’s the fundamental language that must be learnt.

"Studying at LARA enabled me to acquire the fundamental visual skills, and gave me the confidence in both my work and myself, to pursue a career I had always dreamed of."

Sofia Welch, Tutor

The atelier system of learning

The atelier system is a time tested, highly-structured and systematic curriculum which is passed on from tutor to student. It emerged around the seventeenth century and later became the most common method of training painters. Students of differing standards and experience work together, each learning from the other and with the tutor tailoring his critique to that of a student’s individual requirements.This is an extremely effective way of hastening the process of learning and getting results. Tasks are assigned like building blocks and each task must be completely mastered before moving on to the next.

The sight-size method

Simply put, 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-lines) 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.

Life models The source

Life models
The source

LARA's figure models are experienced at holding long poses for several hours at a time, sometimes over several weeks. This allows students plenty of time to study the figure in depth.

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Casts & Still Life Learning the principles

Casts & Still Life
Learning the principles

Cast drawing gives you an intimate understanding of the process involved in creating highly believable, naturalistic images. Still life painting is an opportunity to represent form as a combination of shapes with specific colour values.

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Year 1

The Drawing Year

The first year of study at LARA focuses on the fundamentals of drawing.  These are the most important elements of any artistic development and the back bone of LARA’s process. Without a thorough foundation in drawing, most problems in your artistic development are all too often difficult to resolve. Invariably they derive from fundamental drawing issues such as proportion, value and shape. We can’t emphasise enough how important it is truly to master drawing before you move on to painting.

Each day students spend three hour sessions drawing, and eventually painting, from the nude model. Typically these poses are sustained long poses spanning a number of weeks, providing the student with ample time to study the figure in depth. The remaining three hours are devoted to a series of studio assignments, which begin with the initial cast drawing exercises, and lead to developing an accomplished finished painting by the end of the curriculum.

Years 2 & 3

Drawing > Painting > Advanced Painting

Depending on the student’s level in drawing they will move onto painting in the second year, while continuing to draw alongside. The third year will be spent concentrating solely on painting. Painting is the natural continuation of mass drawing training learned in the first year, with the addition of colour.

Working from both the model and still life, students complete a series of exercises which cover colour mixing, paint application, the achieving of textures and atmosphere in painting. Using a limited palette of 5 colours enables the student to keep focused on tone, temperature, mark making, and painterly qualities – those aspects that ultimately separate painting from photography - less to do with absolute colour than with overall mood.

Students learn to appreciate the impression and the whole statement of values belonging to the specific scene they are painting, whether it be a figure, still life or a portrait. The complicated problems of representing nature are solved by understanding the form as a combination of shapes with specific colour values, each of which relates to the whole. Preliminary colour studies are executed before the main work is attempted, the better to understand the broad effect and flow of light. A general colour ‘block-in’ or ‘ebauche’ is developed into a work that retains unity, with a strong sense of drawing, economy of detail and broadness of effect being stressed.

Typically a painting project begins with a studied drawing in which the accurate proportion and placement of the big masses is established. This is transferred to canvas and the drawing developed from a number of different angles: for instance, with an initial monochromatic, underpainting, or a simplified colour block-in. Regardless of the specific method a direct treatment is encouraged, striving toward a sense of the whole, where each individual component is assigned its proper importance in relation to the whole effect. Throughout the figure painting programme lessons learned in previous drawing exercises are sustained: Accuracy; proportion; capturing a lively and believable gesture; conveying a sense of anatomy, and designing a believable value scheme which describes the effect of light are key.

Advanced projects in the drawing programme allows a natural progression into working with oil paint. Initially, students begin with a “grisaille” palette, familiarising themselves with the medium and the problems of accurate value mixing and paint handling. They progress to working with the traditional limited colour palette, enabling an accurate and convincing colour impression, marrying a strong sense of drawing with the principals of direct painting.

Core modules

Draw

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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Paint

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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Gallery

{{artists}} - Cast drawing of Agrippa {{artists}} - Cast drawing of Bernini {{artists}} - Cast drawing of Constanza {{artists}} - Cast drawing of St Niccolo {{artists}} - Cast Painting of youth {{artists}} - Charcoal drawing of Adrian {{artists}} - Charcoal drawing of Carla {{artists}} - Charcoal drawing of Luther {{artists}} - Charcoal drawing of Robin {{artists}} - Charcoal Drawing of Sebastian {{artists}} - Charcoal drawing of Vangeles {{artists}} - Charcoal figure drawing {{artists}} - Charcoal figure drawing {{artists}} - Charcoal figure drawing of Phil {{artists}} - Charcoal Figure Drawing of Robin {{artists}} - Charcoal Figure Drawing of Robin {{artists}} - Charcoal figure of Namuska {{artists}} - Charcoal Portrait Drawing {{artists}} - Charcoal Portrait Drawing {{artists}} - Charcoal Portrait Drawing {{artists}} - Death Mask of Appiani {{artists}} - Figure Oil Painting {{artists}} - Figure Oil Painting {{artists}} - Figure Painting {{artists}} - Figure painting by Tom Greenwood {{artists}} - Henry charcoal figure drawing {{artists}} - Oil Figure {{artists}} - Oil Figure Painting {{artists}} - Oil Painting {{artists}} - Oil Portrait {{artists}} - Oil Portrait of Paul {{artists}} - Oil Portrait of Paul {{artists}} - Pencil Portrait Drawing {{artists}} - Portrait Drawing {{artists}} - Portrait Oil Painting
  • tutors

    James Napier

    James Napier (Director) studied art at Central St Martin’s School of Art in London followed by a degree in Architectural Design from Kingston University.

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    "Art is a vocation, it chooses you, you don’t choose it."

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    Luca Indraccolo

    Born in Naples, Luca Indraccolo left Italy at the age of 19 to start his advertising career ending up as a creative director for Saatchi & Saatchi London.

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    "Mastering the technique of painting is just the beginning. Deciding what to do with it is the hard part."

  • tutors

    Travis Seymour

    Travis Seymour is an American still-life and figural artist based in London. He graduated with Bachelors Degrees in both Studio Art and Art History from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

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    "Sight-size is like learning to drive. It's feels very mechanical to start with. Then it becomes second nature...fluid."

  • tutors

    Tom Greenwood

    Tom first came to LARA as a student in 2010, after working as an analyst in investment research. Over a four year period of both part-time and full-time study at LARA he is now working as a privately commissioned portrait painter, based in London.

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    "lara's greatest strength is that it teaches everything a painter needs to know, without being prescriptive about personal style or taste. technical ability should free the artist, not constrain them"

  • tutors

    Anastasia Pollard

    Anastasia Pollard has been teaching at LARA since it’s conception and played an important part in LARA’s development and reputation of excellence in drawing and painting.

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    "Students learn as much from each other's critiques as from the tutors. It's the atelier way."

  • tutors

    Sofia Welch

    After struggling to find the classical training she craved in a highly conceptualised educational environment, Sofia found the London Atelier of Representational Art.

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    "Studying at LARA enabled me to acquire the fundamental visual skills, and gave me the confidence in both my work and myself, to pursue a career I had always dreamed of."

  • tutors

    Radoslav Topalov

    ​Being interested in art since an early age, Radoslav started his career as an illustrator at the age of nineteen. During that time, he studied at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia, later to receive his bachelor's degree in fine arts.

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    "It is hard to say what makes someone an accomplished visual artist, but mastering the craft of creating pictures is surely a step in the right direction."

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    Andrew Gow

    Andrew Gow is a portrait painter based in London. He started his training at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he graduated Cum Laude, with Honours, winning the Peyzer Prize for painting.

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    "the rigorous analytical observation and craft of classical drawing and painting learnt from the academic atelier method taught at LARA is an invaluable quality foundation, no matter what creative direction you end up pursuing as artist, craftsperson or designer. "

  • tutors

    Olly Maughan

    Inspired by the Boston School impressionism Olly continued his training under Paul Ingbretson in New Hampshire USA.

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how it works

We try to be flexible for our students so you can pay for our full-time courses either per year (SAVE £700) or per term. You can also choose to pay upfront (secures your place), or pay a (non-refundable) deposit to reserve your place. You will need to pay the balance 4 weeks before your start date to confirm your place. Simply change the quantity to book multiple years or terms. If you have any questions just get in touch.

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any questions?

Choosing where to study is a big decision, so we're here to help. Give us a call on +44 (0)207 738 8884 to have a chat, send us a message or read our FAQs. You can also get a bite-size version of our site in PDF form to print, read and ponder.

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