Monday, June 27, 2011

Why Alla Prima?

I prefer alla prima or direct painting for a number of reasons.  Basically alla prima means a painting done in one sitting.  No, it's not the only way, or the best way, or anything else.  I just prefer it, but I don't always practice it.

First of all, I enjoy working wet in wet, and I have devised a number of strategies to paint that way even after the painting has rested for a while and gone dry (Oiling in for example).  Secondly, I find the immediacy or freshness is best achieved that way.  Thirdly, the day changes and tomorrow will not be the same as today.  In fact I'll be a different person tomorrow.  Then again, I'll still be the same tomorrow as well.  Finally, alla prima is also appropriate for using modern elements for painting - visible brush strokes, use of line, flattened image with simultaneous application of non perspective methods to obtain depth, no corrections, subordination through the use of loose un-modelled elements, colour changes for plane changes etc.

Across It (The Credit), 16x20, Oil on Canvas

Working this way I have found that brush work (palette knife etc) sensitivity and paint viscosity and sensitivity is very important.  You have to be able to add paint on top of wet layers with minimal disturbance of the underpainting.  Some passages here are quite thick, some thin.  For me the use of a large brush facilitates not only speed (cover an area with few strokes) while working relaxed but also sensitivity to the feel of the brush and the paint.  Painting often is the other aid.  I use bristle brushes primarily along with a painting knife and an assortment of old broken down brushes that I feel comfortable abusing.

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