Friday, May 4, 2012

painting alla prima

This painting was done in the traditional "alla prima" or "direct" method of painting which involves painting wet layers upon wet layers. It has been used for centuries by artists from the early Dutch masters to the Impressionists and beyond (not that I'm comparing...)

The other traditional method is glazing or "indirect" painting which involves adding thin layers of paint on dry under-layers to build up the color - which basically takes more patience than I have! 
Oil paint dries  s l o w l y .

The beauty of alla prima is that you can't over-think it! That's helpful to someone like me who tends to obsess about capturing details in graphite drawing and even graphic design (Q: how many fonts do you need to try to design an invitation? A: about as many as you have!)

So, for me, it's a challenge to capture the essence of a composition without over-working it. Alla prima painting stifles that obsession - in a good way. It means honing in quickly on what you want to express. In this painting the thing surprise observation that interested me was the warmth of reflected light in the shadow area of both the vase and the grapes. It links the objects in an unexpected way since you generally think of shadows as cool. Everything else is painted to support that relationship.

Of course, the fact that this painting was done in Leah Lopez's class at the New York Academy of Art didn't hurt. Nothing like knowing you have to finish within a three hours to help FOCUS!
(to be completely honest... I did add some finishing touches at home)  

You can see this effect more clearly in person. And just your luck - this painting is part of my solo show this May at the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library in North Salem during library hours.

Stop by!


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