Alla Prima Portrait Painting
5-Week Online Course with Adrian Cooke
Our new online oil painting courses use Zoom video-conferencing platform for our live weekly classes, supplemented with downloadable study notes and image references, and one-to-one student support and feedback from your instructor.
Each class will include many demonstrations, guiding you in detail through the painting process, interaction and discussion about the oil painting method and techniques, and practical exercises which can be submitted by email for individual appraisal.
This online course focuses on the alla prima method of portrait painting. Alla prima (or 'at the first') is a direct painting method where paint is applied wet-in-wet and the painting is completed in a single session. This requires greater skill and understanding of how to control and manipulate the paint. It contrasts with the academic approach, where paint is built up slowly in layers, which is a safer albeit more time-consuming method.
Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Learn the Alla Prima Portrait Painting Techniques Online
Our All Prima Portrait Painting Course begins on Wednesday, 11th November 2020 or Thursday, 12th November 2020, and runs for 5 weeks. Two class times are available: Wednesday evenings or Thursday mornings. Please choose whichever time of day you'd prefer, and note that you cannot switch between class times.
- Language: English
- Time: Irish Standard Time (UTC+1)
- Platform: Zoom
Alla Prima Portrait Painting
19.00 - 20.30pm (UTC+1)
Starting 11th November 2020
Alla Prima Portrait Painting
10.00 - 11.30am (UTC+1)
Starting 12th November 2020
Learn How to Create a Realistic Portrait Painting in One Session
This course will make use of photo references as well as a self-portrait painting from life. Quite often, artists will only have a photograph to use as a reference, and working from this two-dimensional image also provides an easier route initially to learning the painting process. That being said, our aim will be to transcend this digital image, and create our own expressive interpretation. Once the method is learned, we will then paint from life towards the end of the course, and with even greater confidence!
The direct approach of alla prima painting presents several challenges but many rewards. The immediacy of this kind of painting forces you to choose each brushstroke carefully and concisely, and as a result, it often requires greater initial planning at the start of the painting.
As well as pre-mixing colours and values on the palette, you will also mix on the canvas, wet-in-wet, and learn how to create a more expressive and painterly portrait. We will also learn from some of the masters, like Frans Hals and Édouard Manet, who are celebrated for their fluency in direct painting. You will closely study some of the following techniques:
- Capturing an initial impression of the model
- Colour mixing and planning
- Managing darks, lights and accents
- Variety of brushwork
Working with a limited colour palette, following Anders Zorn's system, you will be shown a step-by-step process to portrait painting, working from a photo reference and then from life (self-portrait). Organising the palette, colour mixing, drawing, value and edges will be covered discussed and demonstrated.
- Art Materials & Equipment
- Desktop / Laptop / Tablet
- Printer / A3 Colour Printing
- Internet Connection
You will need certain art materials and equipment to do this course. Please see Materials List below.
- Live Demonstrations
- Discussion / Q & A
- Student Support via Email
- Comprehensive Study Notes
- High Resolution Images
- Practical Assignments
- Individual Feedback / Critique
Structure & Anatomy
Getting Started with the Basics
The course begins by introducing you to some basic concepts around design, value and form. You will work on some preliminary exercises including matching a value colour strip and rendering a flesh-toned sphere. You will also become acquainted with Zorn's limited palette and the Munsell Colour System.
We will then start working from a photo reference to carefully learn the alla prima method and techniques. These first steps are all about gesture and placement - getting the portrait started and generally establishing where everything is going to fit. You will also block in the major light and dark shapes at this stage, creating a basic value composition. As your portrait progresses, you will gradually refine it.
Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do. Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Likeness & Expression
From Full Colour to Expressive Finish
Gradually we will introduce colour into your portrait paintings, initially developing a simplified three-colour poster study, massing in light, dark, and dark light colour values. From there, you will concentrate on selectively rendering all areas of the portrait, turning the form of the eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks, and hair.
You will be shown how to blend wet-into-wet, creating soft transitions of tone to describe the forms of the face and paying special attention to the quality of edges. Just the right amount of the anatomy will also be explained in order for you to add enough detail to create a realistic and expressive portrait.
Finally, you will be ready to paint from life, and you will combine all of your learning in a self-portrait study from life.
The key principles of oil painting, as well as traditional studio practices, will be demonstrated and explained. Some of these include working on a coloured ground (or 'imprimatura'), understanding composition, developing contrast and value, colour mixing, brushwork, and glazing.
The Zorn palette refers to a palette of colours developed by the Swedish artist, Anders Zorn (1860-1920). It consists of just FOUR colours: yellow ochre, ivory black, vermilion, and titanium white. This may seem like an extremely limited range of colours, but Zorn has demonstrated through his paintings just what is possible with such a limited palette.
Everyone has heard of the colour wheel, but the Munsell colour system goes a step beyond this, organising colours based on three properties: hue (what we usually refer to as 'colour'), value (lightness or darkness of the colour), and chroma (colour purity or saturation). It was created by Professor Albert H. Munsell in the first decade of the 20th century.
& Their Uses
Even experienced artists and professionals can be mesmerised by the many different different kinds of mediums, solvents, surfaces, paints and colours, which all have different properties and uses. This aspect of the course clarifies exactly what materials are needed and why, and how to use them to get the best results.