Friday, July 22, 2011


alla prima plum on linen 6"x6"

When working in layers, as in the indirect method of painting, you really can take your time to build up the light and dark values in a painting.  I am used to always starting a painting in the mid-tones and adding my highlights and transparent darks near the end.  Indirect painting is a great way to separate all the different problems in painting, drawing and composition, value, color, edges and paint quality.  For me, to concentrate on each problem at the same to complete a painting in one sitting is extremely challenging.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Painting alla prima

I'm beginning to experiment with painting alla prima, which is when paint is mixed directly from the tube and a painting is completed in one sitting as opposed to layering and glazing until proper color and values are built up over time.  I hadn't realized how much I depend on using the transparent/opaque qualities of oil paint in my regular layered painting style.  My desire is to have more vibrant color and develop effective brushwork to have a more painterly feel in my work.  Studying alla prima and plein air seem like the way to reach that goal.  I've been experimenting with different supports as well, this little painting is on linen.  I usually work on panels when I layer and glaze and I always smooth my brushstrokes, but I can see the linen is much more beautiful when painting alla prima.  

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Demo in Indirect Painting

Welcome!  I am an oil painter residing in New Mexico.  I use an indirect style of painting based on Flemish and Venetian methods; I paint in layers of transparent glazes and opaque scumbles to produce a painting.  I have done extensive research over the years on classical glazing techniques.  This is a very time consuming way of painting, each layer must dry completely before the next can be applied.  The final results create a very beautiful paint quality, quite unlike painting done wet-in-wet with paint mixed directly from the tube.  I thought I'd begin my blog with the following basic demonstration in layering paint and glazing to illustrate my current painting style, this painting is from 2009.   

1. rough sketch on gessoed panel in charcoal 

 2. burnt umber glaze and opaque white on subject matter to clean it up. 

 3. a glaze of burnt umber and ultramarine in shadow, ochre on subject matter. 
 I like umbers and ochres because of the warmth as opposed to grisaille.

4. Introduced cad. yellow and more opaque colors in the lighted areas.  There should be a balance of opaque/transparent areas and an awareness of warm/cool areas.  blend blend blend  Warm transparent glazes help the backround recede, cool opaque white on subject come forward. White will always cool a color, cadmiums warm. I also mix and use my own version of paint similar to Naples yellow light which is a balanced warm light.

 5. deepening of colors, texture starting to appear.  Opaque paint reflects the light hitting the painting, light travels through transparent areas.  The play of light across surface of the painting helps define form within the painting itself. 

 6. adding more details. overall this is a very warm painting which has a lot of color harmony because I used a limited palette.  

finished painting