Alla prima (Italian for “at once” or “at the first” )is a method of painting in which the final surface of a canvas is generally completed in one application, without being built up by repeated paintings. Since the painting is created at the first attempt, with wet on wet paint, the technique requires the artist to work quickly without allowing the paint to dry. Alla prima paintings are usually not as detailed or precise as those painted using the more traditional layering technique, but can have a fresh, spontaneous quality.
The alla prima painting technique is often associated with 19th century painters such as J.M.W. Turner and John Singer Sargent, who were known for their quick, spontaneous style. Alla prima can also be seen in the work of modern painters such as Bob Ross and Richard Diebenkorn.
Despite its name, alla prima is not necessarily a “first” painting technique. It can also be used by artists who want to achieve a certain effect or look, and are willing to sacrifice detail and precision for the sake of spontaneity.
If you’re interested in trying your hand at alla prima painting, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Use a fast-drying paint. This will allow you to work quickly and prevent your paint from drying before you’re finished.
- Work in small sections. Trying to complete an entire painting in one session can be overwhelming. Break your painting down into smaller sections and work on one area at a time.
- Use a limited palette. Using a limited number of paint colors will help you focus on the overall effects you’re trying to achieve, rather than getting bogged down in the details.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The alla prima painting technique is all about spontaneity and experimentation. Embrace your mistakes and use them to create something unique.