Alla prima paintings are completed in one sitting. When I paint a portrait this way, I draw with my brush, minding the spacial relationships between features. Next, I lay in the darks using full color, to support the forms of the face. The midtones, the lights and their transitions blend into the previous wet passages to complete a loosely painted portrait. This one layer painting allows me to break from the confines of too much detail and preserves the energy captured at the very start of a painting.
12″ x 12″ Oil on Linen
11″x14″ Oil on Canvas
I’ve often found myself frustrated while trying to realize form within a backlit subject. The bright back round light tends to flatten the planes of a figure or face, making it difficult to read the values necessary to create the form of the features. In a situation like this, the values are darker and often not as varied as one might hope. I painted this portrait with the intention of improving my skills in working with backlight.
As you can see, I started with a recycled canvas (covering an unsuccessful painting), and a charcoal drawing. The painting is essentially alla prima (if we can excuse the start in charcoal).