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Alla prima versus non-alla prima


ALLA PRIMA --- Having some teething problems. In the past, I would paint knowing I could paint over the top of it the next day when the paint was touch-dry. But I am trying to copy Mark’s style of painting, which is to carefully check values, colors and to paint the finished version in one go. However, when I did this with a portion of Lucia’s hair, I felt that the hair looked stilted and the darks were too dark. So I decided to paint loosely over this and the rest of the hair with the expectation that I could paint the highlights over the top.  However, painting highlights on wet paint is not the same as painting highlights on dry paint and I am worried I won’t be able to do it. Do other people have these same teething problems with wet-on-wet?  Have I just ruined a perfectly good piece of work that only needed some minor adjustments. And a consequence, of course, I’ve lost the underlying drawing.


  • edited September 2018
    @Dianna, not having tried the method of paintimg in layers I'n mot sure I can help but if you match colours/values and work dark to light, thick over thin and fat over lean you can work wet in wet quite successfully. 
    I don't think you have ruined the painting at all. It looks great on my phone. Just get the darks in her hair in first then gradually work up to the lights. And if you make a mistake wipe it out and repaint. Oils are very forgiving in that sense. :)

  • @Dianna what you have painted so far is technically above most efforts on here, in fact I can not work out how you have done this - very well done 

  • I have been through this, and your painting is not ruined. I let the first layers dry then come back with another layer to complete. The blessing in this new layer is, should a mistake occur you can easily wipe it off and repaint immediately to your specific satisfaction. The already dry areas, depending how dry, can be re-oiled very lightly with linseed oil before resuming painting again, being very careful not to damage the painting in the process. So hang in there, you can complete this well.
  • I think I'm in too much of a hurry to finish this painting. I don't want to wait for the first layer to dry -- which is silly, really, because it's only a few weeks, and I can get on with the rest of the painting in the meantime. And once again, two of you have told me I can just wipe the paint off and repaint immediately - I don't already know this because I'm in the habit of painting over the top of paint that touch-dries in 24 hours so there's no need to wipe paint off --- but of course with wet-on-wet, wiping the paint off makes perfect sense.  Just a small thing, but a quantum leap in a way.  Thank you .
  • Another thing that has just occurred to me -- I did not realise that I should gradually 'work up to the lights'. I know this sounds stupid, but I know when you mix steps you start with the darkest and go up to the lightest.  I know that when you start painting you start with the darkest value/color first, but should I then that continue painting in order from darkest to lightest all the way through?  Is this right?   Because as soon as I have my darkest values/colors in, it's just random from that point on.  I'm all over the place.
  • edited September 2018
    The traditional method is dark to mid-tones to lights, @Dianna. That makes sense because then your darks are thin and lean and you can get progressively thicker and fatter as you work up to your highlights. It takes some self restraint to do this - we just  love putting in those highlights on a vase and in a portrait's eyes. Sometimes, when I'm just blocking in, I'll put a light in just to help me position everything else. This may not be exactly the right colour but it can be alteted later.  :)
  • Painting DMP calls for slow-drying paint and slow painting.... Taking your time to deliberate on each stroke. Taking time to match the color while mixing. Taking time to get the values right.
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