Bird & Sunrise photo

Bird & Sunrise photo
Because "someday" is today!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alla Prima

In the spirit of trying different painting techniques, I wanted to try "alla prima" which is an Italian phrase that means "at the outset" or as we would say, "all at once". No underpainting, no preliminary drawing, just putting down the "shapes, tones and colors in one opaque application", as Helen Van Wyk describes it.

I had tried this before with oil paints and ended up with a mess. This time, I chose a subject I have painted before, a pink columbine and I followed Helen's directions exactly. First, prime the canvas gray so it is better to judge the color on. Sketch the placement of the image using paint. Put in the main body tones of the subject. (Not the extreme lights or darks.) Know where you light is coming from and paint the background from light to dark accordingly. Surprisingly, the dark side is where the light is coming from. Add light tones. Know where your focal point is and don't detract from it with extra fussy details elsewhere in the painting. Add dark tones and then the final highlights. Be sure you have layered and overlapped your shapes so that things in the foreground look like they belong there. Piece of cake...

Five hours later I had a pretty good little painting. I was hoping for two hours since my canvas was only 4" x 5", but size doesn't seem to matter when you are learning.

I will now share the amazing answer of what happens when you mix Alizarin Crimson and Viridian Green. I was sure I would get some weird brown, but it was the loveliest shade of purple gray. The color mixing principle I was using was to get the shadow tone of a pink flower by adding it's color complement, green. You can see this color on the pink petals of the columbine. I love learning new things that surprise me and I think I will try this style of painting again.

Jeff's Corner: What? Size doesn't matter??!!

2 comments:

Dawn Chandler said...

Glorious, Tina! SImply glorious! Clearly "alla prima" and the technique you describe is working for you!

Funny though — you are painting in exactly the opposite manner that I am: I first find my darkest dark, then my lightest light and, then a pure color in the composition that I know I can get just right, and then work to bring them all together — always painting dark to light. "Paint to the light." Out of curiosity, I just may have to try your new way.

Carry on!

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