While students are working through the cast drawing and painting stages of the curriculum, they will be spending an equal amount of time and energy on drawing and painting the figure from life. Half the workday is devoted to life drawing or painting. Students have the opportunity to execute careful and detailed studies of the human figure during the long poses at SARA, where models assume the same pose, day after day, over a period of a few weeks. There are also occasional shorter poses of a few hours or one or two days. In addition, once each week there are gesture drawings with the model assuming quick poses lasting only a minute or two.
The opportunity to draw and paint the portrait is available to everyone once a week, but only advanced students will receive formal portrait instruction. Typically, there are also other, more casual opportunities to work on portraiture organized by the students themselves. As with the cast work, students will begin figure work in pencil, progressing to charcoal, then to charcoal with white chalk, grisaille, limited palette and finally the full palette. Portraiture is begun in charcoal.