Alla prima, an oil painting process.

A process that gets you to your finished painting in no time!

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This painting process is one most of us have seen on TV and learned within most art schools today.  The "alla prima" method, or "at first attempt", is a direct method of painting that is completed mostly in one sitting.  In older days, quite a bit of planning went into it, but now a days, its more of a direct approach without prior planning involved.

This oil painting process can be used for the still life, the floral, the portrait and the landscape.  One of the thing that I've found here on the web are a number of blogs and forums that promote challenges.  In some of these challenges are a "painting a day", a painting in an hour, or a painting in twenty minutes (popularized by some of Bob Ross's teaching and other one stroke painting mentors)  It's a great way to improve your technique and understanding of paint manipulation on the canvas, color mixing and draftsmanship. 

The intense concentration required to skillfully pull a completed work off in one sitting just makes my head hurt, but there are those out there that THRIVE under the pressure and its a joy to watch them perform their craft.

The alla primer oil painting process takes spontaneity, and skill and great emotion.  The great Impressionists of the late 1800's brought this technique of painting to the worlds attention.  And it has never slowed down since!

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The alla prima oil painting process:

The painting is usually done on a smaller canvas and with a colored ground to save time. 

An oil-rich medium is also usually incorporated to allow the entire painting to be worked throughout the session with none of it becoming sticky, or tacky due to premature drying.  The medium is used to keep the paint from drying, but not so much as to thin it for glazing.  Most color mixtures are opaque as glazing is not incorporated. 

Large bristle brushes are typically used as the paint is fairly heavy and thick.  As the work is refined, more softer synthetic nylons and smaller sizes are utilized for final blending and detail work. 

Alla Prima process:

1. A loose under-drawing of charcoal, chalk or even thinned paint is done over the colored ground.

2. Key color and focal areas are laid in firstly.  These are usually your lighter, and more opaque paint.

3. Darker tones are then added, these being again opque and heavy paint.  Background is also done at the same time.

4. After your main elements are blocked in details are now beginning using impasto strokes and thickly applied paints.

5. "Tonking" tapping of a rag or paper, to the canvas to remove excess paint where needed. This is like blotting ink from paper.  No rubbing is done, just a blotting motion to remove paint that is impeding further work.  Too thick a paint in an area that you need to go back into will make mud.

6. After this you can begin blending as you now have paint blocked into all areas of the canvas in the proportions you deem necessary.

7.  Final details are then put into just your focal points.  As the entire painting is still quite wet, the use of the mahl stick will most likely be necessary.  

8. Final highlights and a signature and you're done!

Now, I know it's hard to understand what you have just read without pictures, but have no fear.  I have a small alla prima demonstration for you on my demo section of the site. 

alla prima painting

Until next time....

OK, next time is here!  Check out this new demonstration of the alla prima oil painting process!

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