Various Oil Painting Methods
In this lesson, you will discover Alla Prima Oil Painting Techniques
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Alla Prima Oil Painting Techniques
In Alla Prima, there are many ways to start the painting process – you can take an absolutely white primed canvas and start painting; that, by the way, is not advisable – the whiteness of the ground gives you the wrong perception of the colors you apply on the canvas.
Another option is applying an Imprimatura and starting the painting straight afterwards, without waiting till the Imprimatura is absolutely dry.
We need a diluent for Oil Paint; it could be a White Spirit or Turpentine. Pour it in a special container and close the bottle.
We will use Titian’s Palette Colors – Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Venetian Red and Mars Black.
We start with a brush sketch. We dilute the first layers with White Spirit in a consistency close to watercolor. At this point, we use just Venetian Red without mixing it with any other colors. With a small round Brush, we construct the facial features.
From time to time, we can use a big size Hog Brush to spread the paint more evenly around the canvas and block in bigger areas with the transparent layer of Red paint. Please note that we do not overload the Brush with excess paint.
Use paper tissue to remove unwanted paint from the canvas. So, gradually, we establish the outline of the portrait. As you see, we need just general guidelines without many details.
Our next step is finding the right skin color – pure White is too light for that. We need to add a bit of Red and Yellow Ochre to it. You mix the Colors, then try them on the canvas, and if you see that the mix should be a bit yellower or more reddish – you can add Yellow or Red, respectively. Then, try it on the canvas again. Admix the colors till the moment you find the mix to be good enough.
We are trying to mix the skin color that will be our base skin color – later, we will paint the shades with a darker mix and also place highlights on the most lightened surface of the face. So, the skin color should be darker than the highlights and lighter than shades – a base skin color.
When we apply this layer of paint, we should spread the paint thinly, in places where will do shades we apply Dry Brush method. But lightened areas on the cheeks, nose and forehead could be covered with a more dense layer of paint.
Now, it’s time to proceed with the shaded areas of the face. We add a tiny amount of Black to the skin mix, then we test the color on the canvas – it’s obvious that the mix is too cold, too bluish. In such case, we add Red and Yellow to make the mix warmer.
When we are satisfied with the mix color, we apply this mix by gently spreading it onto the canvas. While we cover the shading areas, we can vary the proportions of Red, Yellow, White and Black Colors in the mix, depending on the tonality we want to achieve, meaning how light or dark the shade should be, as well as any changes in the Color and temperature of the mix, making it colder or warmer. So, be flexible in finding the right mix – color and tonal nuances make the painting picturesque and richer in visual appearance.
Now, we will create a very simple mix of Red and Yellow for painting hair. We are going to do it very sketchily, with free brush strokes. We also indicate the abstract outline of the clothes in loose strokes.
When the hair is established, we can gently blend the skin color into a red hair paint, making a smooth transition between the colors.
By adding Black into the Yellow-Red mix we used for the hair, we get a brownish dark color that we can use for the background. We just apply the paint to the border of the face. Then, we can place our canvas upside down and paint this difficult sector with more convenience.
After that, we return the canvas to its upright position and correct the border between the face silhouette and complete the background with a clean soft hair brush.
Now, we continue with the facial features – we outline the eyes more precisely. But later, we can blend the outline in some places, leaving the precise outline in other places.
We paint the eyebrows with the same mixture we used for the dark background. We just outline the shape of the each eyebrow. Then, we spread the dark color with the previously applied skin color.
For the iris, we use the same mix of Colors, but in different combinations – we outline the iris with a darker color mix; then, we tint the mixture with White and paint the iris with a light grey color. And at the end, we indicate the reflective highlights with pure White.
We gradually complete the painting by adding more and more thin layers of paint. When it’s almost done, we can clearly see what else is needed and what kind of color nuance should be adjusted.
So, that’s pretty much it. We did the portrait study in one short session – applying paint layers one after another while they were wet.