Full-time Study

Sight-size portraiture training


The Sarum Studio offers a course of study that is no longer provided by contemporary art schools. Students begin by drawing daily from the figure and the cast before graduating first to portrait drawing, then to figure and portrait painting. The objective of the training is to equip students with the practical skills and aesthetic sensibilities they need to interpret and transcribe the visual world, and to fulfil their potential as creative artists within the context of a figurative tradition.

Cast drawing of Constanza

Cast Drawing

Drawing from plaster casts enables the beginner to analyse shape and proportion, and to render the effects of light and shadow without the complications of colour or movement. It encourages a methodical approach from the start and is the best way to learn the language of seeing. In addition to training the eye, cast drawing promotes skills essential for portraiture, as well as an appreciation of historical sculpture.
View a cast drawing demonstration here.

Figure Drawing & Painting

The ability to draw and paint accurately from life is a basic artistic requirement. At the Sarum Studio, sustained poses allow ample time for a comprehensive enquiry into gesture and proportion, modelling and colour. On attaining requisite drawing skills students proceed to painting, learning to key colours to nature using a traditional palette. They are also taught how to prepare canvas and grounds, and how to make oil paint and painting media.


Using the sight-size method, students are guided through the process of drawing or painting a head from life. Clear objectives are set for each sitting, which are explained with practical demonstrations and frequent critiques. Before progressing to painting, beginners complete cast and portrait drawings in charcoal in order to become familiar with the tenets of sight-size, while working alongside those with more experience to learn by example. A full academic year (in practice – thirty weeks) should be considered the minimum necessary for a comprehensive basic training, with the option of more advanced study in a second year and beyond.

Sight-size portraiture shown in the various stages of development

Sight-size portraiture shown in the various stages of development. See the demo in more detail