Alla Prima: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Direct Painting by Al Gury

Friday Inspiration



Alla Prima by Al Gury

This is an excellent book for beginning and intermediate level artists who are interested in learning more about painting in the direct method, or alla prima.

I found this book well organized and thoughtful in how it presented information. The first part is dedicated to basic materials, and the second part to color. However, it is the last two sections of the book that really make this a good reference book to own.

Part Three is dedicated to explaining and teaching the different techniques associated with painting in a direct manner.

{wipe-out method of underpainting}

{color blocking technique}

{layering technique}

{blending technique}


{scumbling, velaturas, and glazes}

Part four of the book explores the different genres of painting, and how the alla prima method of painting might be applied to them.



{Still Life}


Its a fascinating book with a lot of different artists contributing to the book, thus also providing a glimpse at all the different ways artists can apply the direct method of painting.

Alla Prima: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Direct Painting


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The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet: Session 5

NGA Copyist Program

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{progress at the end of the day}

After the last session, I came back to the NGA all enthused and ready to cover some canvas this session.

Using the skills I have been gradually gaining, I tackled the right side of the composition. Focusing on getting the values and color temperatures as close as possible to the original, I worked methodically top to bottom and left to right.

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{progress at the beginning of the day}

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{progress at lunch time}

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{progress at 3:09pm}

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{progress at the end of the day, 3:22pm}

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The Next NGA Copy…

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{my current copy at the NGA}

Hello there!

As I am more than half finished with the copy of the Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet, I am in the process of deciding what to copy next… and I thought I would get your input on the next one I choose to paint.

The paintings I am considering are:

1. A Girl with a Watering Can by Auguste Renoir

2. Mother and Child by Mary Cassatt

3. Wivenhoe Park, Essex by John Constable

4. Young Woman with Peonies by Frédéric Bazille

Personally, I am leaning towards the Renoir or the Cassatt, because Naomi seems to really like these two, and because either painting would be a fun challenge to paint.

So, over to you, which one would you paint and why?

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What Colors Do You See in Shadows?

sidewalk shadows
I still remember the first time I observed “purple” in a shadow. I was walking across the Key Bridge from Georgetown to Roslyn, VA and I noticed how yellow the white concrete pavement appeared, then I noticed the shadows of the railings were a bright violet.

It was magical, and I felt like I was now a friend of the Impressionist Camille Pissarro.

Gelee blanche (Hoarfrost) by Camille Pissarro, 1873

Gelee blanche (Hoarfrost) by Camille Pissarro, 1873

This painting by Camille Pissarro created quite the stir in the French academic art circles when it was first publicly displayed due to the patterned shadows on the ground. First off, the shadows were painted in blues and purples, and secondly the alley of trees that were casting the shadows were not presented within the picture plane. At the time, not including all the objects that established the composition in a painting was taboo, and painting in the vibrant new colors available to artists was also revolutionary.

The Impressionists did the world a service by depicting the colors seen in life, now the joy of discovering and perceiving the bold and vibrant colors that fill our world is open to anyone who takes a moment to really look.

So this afternoon, I want to encourage you to observe the pattern of shadows that cross your path.

What colors do you see in the shadows?


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The Artist’s Garden at Vétheuil by Claude Monet: Session 4

NGA Copyist Program

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{progress at the beginning of the day}

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{progress at lunch time}

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{progress at the end of the day}

For session 4, I worked on the left side of the composition, and because I thought about how I was going to proceed before I got to the gallery, I was able to cover a lot of territory.

Because I am copying this painting, and I try to re-enact the entire painting, just not the end result, I spent some time during this session laying in some textural elements that will eventually be painted over.

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{detail of progress at lunch time}

Specifically I painted in the lower part of the stairs with thick highlights on the edge of the risers, however Monet must have decided that this element took away from the composition, because he later added all the vegetation to the left side of the stairs narrowing the stairs visually.  So consequentially, there is a ton of impasto paint under what seem likely to be nasturtium vines by the color of the yellow-green foliage and the orange specs that represent flowers.

So today I painted in the stairs with the thick impasto texture with the intention to paint over all this area during the next session.

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{progress at the end of the day with the stairs painted in}

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{detail of the layers of paint and texture}

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