|Sabrina, 12x9" oil on linen, painted in 3 hours from life|
Painting from life is the ultimate artistic learning experience. Interpreting all the subtle colors and values on a live model is very different from copying a photo, and the time constraint keeps things fresh. The anxiety I feel at some point during an alla prima session is motivating, too. Forces me calm down and focus on what's important. And I always have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the session...I like that.
|Tory, 12x9" oil on linen, painted in 3 hours from life|
It's important to have a strategy for alla prima portrait painting. If you don't, you'll end up with a raging mess for all that effort. Below is my procedure...borrowed from many sources. It's a work in progress. Each bullet represents about 20 minutes of effort. If I'm half-way through a 3-hour session and haven't gotten to the features yet, I know I need to speed things up.
- Compose the image; block in the big shapes
- Premix paint piles for average skin tones in light and shadow. Add the darkest dark and lightest light for reference.
- Loosely paint the big shapes, including background, hair and clothes
- Second pass on big shapes; adjust colors and correct drawing errors
- First pass on features and details
- Third pass on the overall painting; refine shapes, temperatures, brushwork
- Second pass on features
- Highlights and dark accent...all done.
|Yoni, 12x9" oil on linen, painted in 3 hours from life|
Here are a few solid references on alla prima (portrait) painting:
- Oil Painting Techniques and Materials by Harold Speed. Includes an excellent chapter on the alla prima portrait, good details.
- Alla Prima by Al Gury. Excellent source of information on direct painting techniques; nice demos on alla prima portraits as well as other genres.
- Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting by Richard Schmid. Get the new edition, lots of additional insights, advice, and images of beautiful alla prima portraits.
- International Artist magazine usually has a portrait painting demo in each issue, mostly alla prima. Interesting to see how many different approaches there are. One for every artist.
|Lee, 8x6" oil on linen, painted in 1 hour from life|