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The training at SARA is designed to give students the skills necessary to create convincing, realistic works of art that meet the highest standards of excellence and craftsmanship — standards that are best illustrated within the works of the Old Masters. Accordingly, students of SARA are taught using traditional methods that have produced many of history’s greatest masters.

The training and curriculum is created from the best and most effective training techniques used in 19th-century European academies and private ateliers, the Russian academy, the apprentice system of the renaissance and our faculty’s own extensive experience both as students and instructors. SARA uses the traditional comparative method of measurement in its training – it does not use the sight-size method. The result is a rigorous and demanding system, which offers the greatest flexibility to meet the specific needs of each student so that they progress at their own best pace.

The education is a three-year program with a curriculum designed as a systematic progression that breaks down the complex and intimidating challenge of learning to draw and paint realistically from life into practical stages. Each stage requires that the student acquire and demonstrate specific skills before advancing to the next more challenging stage. Students progress in a logical, step-by-step fashion leading ultimately to free and confident painting in oil. The speed at which a student advances through the curriculum is directly related to how much time and effort they invest.


Students also learn a wide variety of practical studio skills including hand grinding oil paint; preparing wood panels and copper as supports for painting; stretching and preparing raw linen canvas as a support; mixing mediums, grounds and varnishes, and a great deal more.

SARA is devoted to preserving, promoting and developing the humanistic values, technical skills and craftsmanship that were the hallmark of great art for centuries before the shift to modernism.  SARA uses many of the same effective, time-tested methods that were used to train the great artists of the past. This is not a return to the past, but a way of expanding the tradition and moving it forward by building upon the solid foundation of knowledge that has been passed down to us.

It is a fun and interesting fact that students of SARA can trace their training, in a direct and unbroken line of descent, from their instructors (through the lineage of their teachers) as far back as the 14th century. They have a genuine connection to numerous old masters such as Andrea Del Sarto, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Jacopo da Pontormo, as well as François Boucher, Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Jean-Leon Gerome, and many other masters.

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