Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Alla Prima Demo

If you are like me then you probably love seeing other artists' demonstrations.  I especially enjoy trying to figure out what the artist is thinking about during the process of building a painting.  When working with a long pose or even spending multiple sessions with the same still life requires planning.  This is a muscle that I appreciate and am currently developing, but I also enjoy paintings that are completed in one sitting a.k.a.alla prima.  I remember one of my teachers saying, "Know what stage you are in and focus on getting the most out of that stage before moving on to the next one."  I find this discipline very challenging, but rewarding when I take the extra time to get it right.  Enjoy!

I've never painted on an oval format, but I thought it would be a nice element for the amaryllises.  I first started the grissaille focusing on the over all relationships of the shapes with a loose envelope, keeping in mind my focal point.  I didn't want the stem cutting right through the vertical center so I pushed it slightly to the right.

This is about an hour into the painting and I am focusing on angles, especially extending the lines and how they intersect with other shapes.  I am thinking about the gesture of the flowers, how they are moving and extending from the stem.  I am just as concerned with the abstract negative shapes as I am with the flower shapes.  I am also starting to separate light shapes from the shadow shapes.  I move the paint around until the shapes lock into place.

Keeping in mind how much daylight I have left I am content with my shapes so I  push into color.  I start with the easiest color to see which for this situation was the blue color on the amaryllis in the background.  Because I am seeing so many colors I edit what I see by asking myself, "What is the overall color in this area?"

I continue to spread my colors out to cover the entire canvas.  I am starting to think about the form of the flower, and not just about abstract shapes (i.e. "Which shapes or closer or further from me?").  In addition I am trying to reach my complete value range of colors.  Because of the whiteness of the flowers I am pushing more tinted pinks, purples and blues into the light masses...but not at the expense of value.  I am also finding variety with the yellow and greens of the stems.

Ok, it's make it or break it time.  I have about an hour and a half to express the forms of the flower.  I start to caress the paint over the forms, like I was an ant walking over the individual forms.  For me this is what I work for.  I love modeling forms, and tweaking value relationships.  I start softening and sharpening edges and trying to discover the variety.  I pay particular attention to form and cast shadows.  I am seeking harmony in the masses. 

Time is up!  Now I have to find an app that crops oval formats.


  1. Great post, Jason, thank you. It's nice to see the process. And a very successful still-life. Also enjoyed your previous post on Daniel Sprick.

  2. Great post, great blog! THanks for the hard work...

  3. I never knew there is so much thought in the process of developing a painting. You did a great job of explaining and educating. Keep up the great work.