Friday, May 4, 2012

Alla Prima Is This Donna


Hibiscus; 6" x 6"; oil on gallery canvas.

Alla Prima: Italian  meaning all at once.

As defined on About Painting:
Alla prima is a style of painting where, instead of building colors up with layers or glazing over an underpainting, the painting is completed while the paint is still wet. Strictly defined, an alla prima painting would be started and finished in one painting session, but the term is also more loosely applied to any painting done in a direct, expressive style, with minimal preparation.
As you may have guessed by now, I am mostly an alla prima painter.  I've been an alla prima painter all my life. My mom hit it on the head when she called me her little Prima Donna though I couldn't sing a note of La boheme. Little did I know she was saying I was a demanding child. What she didn't get was that I was demanding a little more spontaneity and a lot less parental regimentation. Painting directly on the canvas or paper with no preparation celebrates spontaneity. And  there's not enough of it in our lives where "I'll have to check my book and get back to you on that" reigns supreme.

Now the portrait was not done alla prima. I applied the grid system to that when I got to the canvas. Being the novice I am with the medium, I couldn't take a chance. The little portrait of Steve is  alla prima   as is this little painting of a hibiscus. Alla prima suits Mrs. W's Prima Donna--till the left side of my brain kicks in and whispers, "Perhaps a bit more definition here dear."

BIG ART NEWS: Edvard Munch's The Scream sold for $120,000,000 at Sotheby's. He did four renditions. The one that went for that astronomical amount is the one we all know and love.  They didn't say who bought it, but if it was a single guy, I'd ask him to marry me. --If it was a married guy, I'd ask him to marry me. Ellis (Honey) wants to know what about him? He'd like to marry him too. 


Love the painting, The Scream. To me he's not screaming
he's yelling," Oh no Mr. Bill." But I didn't live through
what Edvard Munch lived through that prompted him to
express his horror in paint.



OTHER NEWS:  Our beautiful Detroit Institute of Arts is having financial difficulties. The city has cut funding. I'm a patron member. I give as much as I can yearly as do a lot of other art loving Detroiters, but it isn't enough.  For our patronages, we get free entrance to the museum, and special exhibits. We also get some percentage off in the gift shop which has great arty things--particularly the purses and jewelry--plus all the art  books I love dearly, (not to be downloaded on Kimble, but caressed in your hands). I want to pay entrance fees and special exhibit fees like non supporters and let my donation go 100% towards supporting the museum.  Don't give me anything, just take care of my art, my home.   --Looks like I have to get involved. I just sent a letter to the commissioner of my district in the county telling her to vote yes for a millage vote in August where I would vote yes on a millage. And, as luck would have it, I'm going to dinner tonight with a longtime dosan.  


--Would you believe that  none of the watercolorists I met at a workshop had ever been to the museum that hosted Matisse, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Sargent and such!  How the hell do they know what art is?  I was sitting around with dabblers who were playing in the water! I never went back. that's why I paint watercolor alla prima too.



24 comments:

  1. Thank you, this is new Technic to me! Red and alive!
    And about Krakow - yes, you are right. But when you are here - the life wins and the youth in Spring time is easy to accept. Much more easy than dead and Hitler's damn vision, believe me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your photographs show the beauty of Krakow Maria. It's a beautiful city, as is Vienna, where my mom couldn't enjoy her tour because of what she knew about its history. You are an ambassador of good will for Krakow and us older sons and daughters who were too young at the time to know what our parents were worrying about. You doing a great job. I'll bet you never thought your blog had that kind of impact. What you are doing is meaningful. I love blogging. It does bring the peoples of the world together one on one. It's great.

      Thanks. I had read about alla prima in art history, but I had never thought of myself as an alla prima painter till the phrase kept popping up around Bloggersville and I looked it up. I always though I was just impetuous! LOL

      Delete
  2. Pat and I have always used Prima Donna in the sense your Mom used it. Small world.

    Your Hibiscus is really great, warming and exciting extrovert colours - "Look at me", it hollas!

    I knew nothing of alla prima, until now. You're educating me. You'd be horrified to know how little prep I do for anything, be it drawing/writing/joinery etc. I have never ever done practice pieces of anything ... if I'm going to mess it up, then it might as well be the real thing. Spontaneity IS all!

    Imagine never going to galleries or museums. I can remember seeing my first Goya. It was in Queen Victoria's place on the Isle-of-Wight (Osborne House?) I walked into the room and there it was. I could hardly breath, let alone talk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's how I felt when I saw Michelangelo's David in Firenzi, the stop we almost missed because Ellis (Honey) said the sign on the side of the train tracks was wrong; we're going to Florence). Standing on line waiting to see the giant sculpture, I was so excited I almost missed seeing Michelangelo's Tondo of the Virgin Mary; I looked up at it just as the line rounded the corner into the gallery where David stood in all his glory. I cried. I touched his toe. I get tears in my eyes still when I recall that museum visit.
      Stupid women who dare dabble!

      Meanwhile, I do dabble a little myself and mostly impulsively.
      I didn't have a clue that I was dabbling alla prima till I noticed a lot of blogging artists used that term. I called what I was doing doodling. Now I know I'm doing something important: direct painting. LOL.

      Delete
  3. Hola Linda. Estupendo trabajo con mucho colorido y lleno de esplendor primaveral. ¡Felicidades!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sonia. It was a fun painting to do after all the tension I had doing the portrait.

      Delete
  4. Your 'alla prima' Hibiscus is lovely, lush, colorful and spontaneous...oh well, I guess that 'alla prima' IS all about being spontaneous. This is the way I paint in watercolor, but in oil I find it hard not to paint at least two layers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try it, you might like it Jane. The long drying period that oils have allows you to work wet into wet for a couple of days or more-- How long depends on the thickness of your paint. Not finishing in one session has nothing to do with alla prima. Alla prima just means you don't work out the composition first with pencil, you just paint and let things happen. That flower isn't the flower exactly pictured on my reference photo--it's my spontaneous reaction to the flower--sort of like: the hibiscus goes something like this.

      Delete
  5. Thank you for following my blog.Your works are brilliant.
    Thank you for your comment.
    I´m sorry my english isn´t good.Bye!! Eugenio.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know about brilliant, I'm a bit of a stumble bum who just picks up the brush and reacts to what she sees, but thank you. As for your English--write in your own language. I have Google translation and don't mind using it. I appreciate your comments.

      Delete
  6. Ann, I love your work AND the comments you leave (like the most recent one for PointyPix). I know you have encouraged me before on TMC as well, and I learn so much from your observations and encouragements. SO I thought I would drop by and say thank you for your contributions to the on-line art community:-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love your comment, but I'm not sure you meant it for me. My name is Linda. I tried to visit your site, but was unable to find one as yet. I'll keep looking. Thank you for following though. I hope to continue to make contributions the art world.

      Delete
    2. GULP! I am so sorry for calling you Ann! Wrong name but right person:-) I did mean the comment for you:-) My site is cripplepencil.blogspot.com if you are interested, but I really did not comment in order for you to look. I just really appreciate your contributions all over the place!

      Delete
  7. Hello Linda, paint "alla prima" is my dream! I started painting in 2004 and after various experiences I have come to the conclusion that painting with "spontaneity" is the thing that gives better results. There's only one problem, it's really hard to achieve! But I'm trying hard.
    Your hibiscus are gorgeous! I like them! Have a nice Sunday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tito. Since I have discovered I have always been painting all prima, (I just didn't know or recall from my art history that's what the art world called painting directly),I sort of like the pompousness of the term which just means painting directly. If your direct approach doesn't please you, watercolor paper left under running water will clean right up. Oils wipe off canvas with a rag doused with mineral oil--or even turpentine if you used any of the staining colors. I was taught alla prima. I washed down the canvas with the lightest earth tone--yellow ocre is my favorite starter--then proceded to wipe out the lights with mineral spirits, draw in and strengthen the darks with a stronger ocre mix. If that handling of the composition counts as a big deal preperation. I think the opinion is picayune. Alla prima is easy if you don't overly value the canvas or the paper--have trepidation on making your mark on the pristine surface. Jump in,the water's fine.

      Delete
  8. I am dying to know who bought the painting. And where they hung it. And what other paintings they have...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too Agnes. I have no idea. There was a middle man. My working title was: The Unknown Children.

      Delete
    2. I used a middle man so that you didn't know I'd bought it as a Christmas present for you!

      Delete
  9. Right. And whoever bought it must have more money than brains--to think he could have bought Hibiscus and still have a couple thousand to donate to the Museum. PS. I had no idea about 'oiling out'. Thanks for the great video! The guy was hilarious. Also thanks for putting me in touch with John Simlett--we all seem to be different versions of the same thing. Great guy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent point Bill. Then there was this article in the paper today about this broad (Mullen) who managed the airport and was the highest paid of Wayne County officials that made my blood boil. Why her--she is pretty or else she knows some secrets people want kept secret--and not the museum? Unfortunately, after her salary left the bank, she was fired.

      Well the millage is going to be on the ballot in August. They've already got my yes vote. I got an e-mail from the founders' society saying they didn't need anymore e-mails sent to the commissioners; their e-mail file was overflowing with responses to the museum's cry for help.

      Delete
  10. The oil painter I first learned from used alla prima to refer to starting to paint on a canvas by painting one part of the whole (for example, painting one eye on an otherwise blank canvas to completion before continuing to paint outward from there to paint a portrait). Very strange process.

    Lovely hibiscus oil painting. Must have felt really good after the commissioned portrait work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sure was Jean. In fact I didn't paint this whole weekend. Just laid around refilling my cup.

      That is a weird way to start a painting. Composition is the first thing I have in mind and I always start laying out the space with paint on a brush, a rag, a sponge, whatever. The canvas is always white as I go for it. The instructor's method reminds me of Picasso, where likeness wasn't an issue, composition and color were.

      Delete
  11. I'm so pleased you visited my blog (and thank you for the lovely comment) - because now I've discovered your blog.
    I know very little about art (did some Art History papers along with my English degree) - good to read about the alla prima technique here and to see examples of your work.
    That hibiscus just glows - stunning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad to have you Alexia. New Zealand is a lovely country. It's number one on my husbands list of places to see. Seeing it through your eyes yesterday was delightful. I was very glad II rang into you. You don't have to know a lot about art. Some artists do, others don't. What we all know is how to express our selves with the various mediums. Your is photography and you're very good at it. Thank you for following.

      Delete