Alla Prima Oil Painting


Alla Prima Oil Painting: Intermediate to Advanced

Class Start Date:  April 19, End Date: June 14

Days: Thursdays,   Time: 1:00 – 3:30pm

This “alla prima” (at first attempt) painting workshop really gets to the heart of what representational painting really is, pieces of color on a canvas.  Yet when the color is accurately mixed and placed next to other accurate pieces of color, the paint vibrates and tricks the eye into believing the marks are more than just paint.   This workshop stresses application paint and color mixing to get an accurate painting the first time.   An excellent workshop for those who need practice “seeing color”.  More info Minimum age 16

Please take note there is a one-time $25 model fee for this class (5 days with the model).


Schedule of Classes:

Class 1) April 19 – For first time students, you do not need to bring anything to the first class

Demonstration Day: For those who have not taken this class before

Exercise (repeat students only) – “Negative Space Painting”, still life

Class 2) April 26 – Still Life, Speed and Simplification Exercises

Class 3) May 3 – Still Life, “30 Strokes”

Class 4) May 10 – Still Life, One Day Painting with Alla Prima

Class 5) May 17 – Demo: “Proportions Mapping”

Speed Figure painting in mono-chrome

Class 6) May 24 – Demo: “Mixing Flesh Tones in Nature”

Figure in the Landscape – Day 1 of 2- Color Spot Painting

Class 7) May 31 – Figure, Day 2 or 2 – Color Spot Painting

Class 8) June 7 – Figure, one day alla prima painting

Class 9) June 14– Figure, one day alla prima painting


Suggested Material List for Oil Paint


Oil painters- I recommend a BIG wood pallet

The ABSOLUTE BEST is a New Wave –



*1-6 canvas boards/panels/canvases 

My personal preference is panel.  I make my own, but panels made by “Ampersand” with a ¾” cradle are very comparable.  One day paintings can be small sizes (16×16 or less).   I highly recommend waiting to buy your surfaces after the first class.


Brushes- (suggested)- Natural Hair Brushes or Synthetic Brushes 

Typically, I use “Winsor Newton Monarch Synthetic” or Jack Richardson “Grey Matter” brushes, you can use any brand you like as long as they are “oil or acrylic” brushes and have a long handle.  For alla prima, I prefer synthetic or nature sable hair.  I mostly stick to filbert brushes.

Filberts- size 4, size 8, size 12 :  Round- Size 4  (use your best judgement though)



 “Master’s Brush Cleaner and Preserver” soap disk

“Gamsol” mineral spirits

Brush cleaning tank – to put Gamsol in, OR you can make this with an old salsa jar and chicken wire


Mediums (what you add to increase the paint “flow”) I do not use mediums for alla prima

If you must though… “Alkyd” Walnut oil (made by M.Graham) 

Medium cup (Or small baby food jar to hold medium)



Metal Pallet knife/painting knife (Liquitex brand, #12, #13 or #14) no plastic knives

Stick of Vine Charcoal

Something to carry everything, (art box, French easel, portfolio, back back, etc)

Paper Towel (I like to Scott, blue paper towel, you can buy at Costco or hardware store)


Suggested Paint (small tubes, 37-40ml)

For Oil Paint, my favorite brand is “M. Graham Paint” (found at the Rockville Plaza store only) and “Gamblin” for a “well-balanced paint for the price”.  I like Williamsburg, but it’s too expensive for some colors.


Cadmium Lemon Yellow

Cadmium Yellow Medium

Cadmium Orange

Cadmium Red

(Permanent) Alizarin Crimson

French Ultramarine

Cerulean Blue


Sap Green

Naples Yellow

Yellow Ochre

Burnt Siena

Burnt Umber

Titanium White (Big tube)

Other (fantastic) colors

Quinacridone Magenta -Gamblin brand

Bohemian Earth Green -Williamsburg brand

Juane Brilliant (substitute for Naples Yellow) – figure painting

Flake White (substitute for Titanium White) – figure painting

Cobalt Teal Gamblin brand


Recommended Reading

 “Alla Prima:  Everything I know about Painting ” by Richard Schmid

 Hawthorne on Painting collected by Mrs. Charles Hawthorne