A brief history:
The direct painting approach has been practised from the 17th century by painters such as Frans Hals,Valasquez and Caravaggio. In the middle of the 19th century the style became popular among impressionist painters due to the availability of commercial paints of a buttery texture also an ethos amongst painters for spontaneity and expression. Some of the more famous painters from that period who worked in an alla prima style are as diverse as Paul Cezanne, John Singer Sargent, Sarrolla and Monet. The technique is still a popular way of capturing a portrait.
The Alla Prima painting process:
Alla Prima is the Italian for ‘at the first attempt’ or ‘at once’ and is used to describe a style of painting where you paint a picture in one sitting, particularly applicable to oil-painting. The French use the term au premier coup. This style is also referred to as ‘wet on wet’ or ‘direct’ painting and is used to its fullest in impasto styled paintings where thick paint is applied and worked into each other. Van Gogh’s sunflowers is a famous example. The paintings often have a virile life and freshness of colour and effect, not always attained by more precisely planned methods.
Commissioning an Alla Prima Painting:
For Alla Prima portrait paintings I like to meet the sitter for an informal preliminary discussion on what is required. You will need to consider the function, spirit, and mood of the portrait, as well as its size and the position it will hang. This will help us decide the outfit for the sitter, the location, and the price of the portrait painting. I require just one sitting either at my art studio or on location of approximately 2 hours. During this time, I will take reference photographs and create preliminary sketches and drawings. I then produce a study in oil on canvas for approval and meet with you once again to make any small changes and decide upon the final portrait composition. I will then begin work on your final portrait painting, which can take from 1 to 3 months to create. If you would like to discuss commissioning a painting with me please get in contact. I’d love to hear your ideas.