The Sight & Insight Podcast

Episode 15 - Alla prima

July 9, 2018

"Get into the habit of doing what you see, not what you know. Human reason cannot foresee the accidents of out-of-doors."

— Charles Hawthorne

Greetings, Art Lovers, and thank you for joining us for Episode 15: Alla Prima. Once again, Connie, David and Judy, gather around the table to discuss another fascinating aspect of the artistic world. 

Alla prima – not, as Judy first thought, an Italian cooking term - is sometimes referred to as ‘direct painting,’ or ‘premier coup,’ depending on who you are talking to, and refers to an oil painting method whereby the artist puts down each stroke of paint – right color tone, value and, of course, the right place – to represent the end result, or ‘final statement,’ as Reed Kay describes it. Merriam-Webster, on the other hand, defines alla prima as “a method of painting in which pigments are laid on in a single application instead of being built up by repeated paintings.”

Interestingly, this is not a new method in outdoor, or even studio, painting and goes back to the 16th-century and the Dutch Golden Age painter Frans Hals. More recently, the method was extensively used by the great Spanish master, Sorolla, in describing his sun dappled outdoor figurative pieces on the beach and elsewhere.

Boy_with_a_Glass_and_a_Lute_c_1626_Oil_on_panel_100_x_90_cm.jpg  Garden_of_the_Sorolla_House_Oil_On_Canvas_Joaquin_Sorolla_Y_Bastida_1863-1923_Spain_.jpg

Left: Boy with a Glass and a Lute, (aka The Merry Lute Player) c.1626. Oil on panel by Frans Hals (c.1581/85–1666), Guildhall Art Gallery, London

Right: Garden of the Sorolla House, Oil On Canvas by Joaquin Sorolla Y Bastida (1863-1923, Spain)

"I could not paint at all if I had to paint slowly. Every effect is so transient, it must be rapidly painted."

— Joaquin Sorolla

Whichever way you look at it, David and Connie, as practicing artists and teachers will describe what alla prima means to them, and how it can be used by the landscape painter to capture, on canvas, a brief moment in time.

Judy, meanwhile, was busy checking the Internet for scintillating information to share about 'alla prima' and found herself googled toward the World Cup. Confused? Judy certainly was....

Happy painting,

David, Judy and Connie 

podcast-david.jpg   podcast-connie.jpg

 "The thicker you paint, the more it flows."

— John Singer Sargent