alla prima: Cappuccino V8

Alla Prima; Day 19, Cappuccino V8: #30paintingsin30days

Alla Prima, an Italian word which means getting a painting done in one session or before the painting dries.

One Session Painting!

Greetings!  Today’s painting was an exercise in “getting in done – now!”

alla prima: Cappuccino V8

To explain, I usually work my paintings over multiple sessions.  In between, the painting is allowed to dry.  Furthermore, my mind is allowed to think and contemplate the painting.

Not the situation today!  You see, I started my painting late.  True, I started the painting yesterday.  Using a white charcoal pencil, I laid out the painting on a prepared piece of watercolor paper.

Paper Prepared.

I digress a minute to say that I prepare the painting with a layer of gesso (primer and ground).  Then, once the gesso is dry, I lay down some layers of paint just to tone the paper and get the right feel.

Alla Prima Painting Time!

So, back to the state of my painting.  I had a rough drawing, but that was about it.  And, with only an hour and a half or so to work, I needed to get busy!  I was allotted one session.

I would love to tell you that it was a glorious start and the painting unfolded like a it was some sort of natural process.  No, rather, it was the usual struggle condensed into 90 minutes.

This is as close to “alla prima” that I get.  I must say that it was enjoyable, once I got into the painting process.  As you might imagine, I had to think quickly on my feet.


So, I am using quick drying acrylic paint.  However, I think a few things that helped ensure I could finish the painting in one session.  I might even say they could be “tips”.  Anyway, here’s some techniques that helped.

  • Prepare the paper (canvas) with gesso and a toned ground ahead of time.
  • I use Golden’s acrylic glaze medium to keep the paint from drying to quickly.
  • I had a design scheme in mind and worked the scheme first, laying out the values (darks and lights) early in the painting process.
  • Worked dark to light.

About the Design.

You might notice that I have used one of my favorite composition schemes, a sort of diagonal grid.  The dark shapes start at the upper left then work down to lower right.

Why use this design?  I needed a diagonal to relieve the blocky shapes I’d created.

Put another way, I like to alternate the lights and darks.  Plus, the diagonal direction helps move the eye around the ways.

So, What To Think?

I think I need to try working alla prima again!  I liked the focus required to complete a painting in one sitting.  The ideas stay fresh.  In other words, less fussing!

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