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Alla Prima Art Clinic

Alla Prima Art Clinic: Plein Air + Color Spot

By April 10, 2021April 11th, 2023No Comments

Tuesdays, April 18 – June 6, 2023, 10:00 – 12:30pm

with J. Jordan Bruns

Alla prima means “at first attempt” and that first attempt of a color mixture or application of a paint stroke is critical when painting the great outdoors.  As the sun moves across the sky, our painting method must be quick to capture all the moments of dramatic light and shadow. That’s why getting the paint stroke right the first time is so important. We’ll practice the three steps in creating a fresh plein air painting: 1) identification of the color, 2) mixing the color, and 3) putting the color in the right spot.  In attending to these three things, you’ll preserve the spontaneity and energy in your plein air paintings.

Schedule of Classes:

Class 1) April 18- Demonstration Day: Alla Prima vs Color Spot- working at Glen Echo Park

We’ll setup for a two-week painting to be continued for April 25, bring a sketchbook for planning

Location: Meet at Stone Tower Studio, Glen Echo Park

Class 2) April 25 – Continue working on the Plein Air Painting from April 18

Location: Meet at Stone Tower Studio, Glen Echo Park

Class 3 May 2 – Lecture: “Compositional Lines: Choosing Where/What to Paint”  

Location: Meet at Stone Tower Studio, Glen Echo Park

Class 4) May 9 – Plein Air Painting

Location: Meet at Stone Tower Studio, Glen Echo Park

Class 5) May 16  Lecture: “Mixing Green”- Plein Air Painting

Location: Meet at Brookside Gardens

Class 6) May 23 – Plein Air Painting

Location: Meet at Brookside Gardens

Class 7) May 30 – Lecture: “Sky Blue and Atmospheric Perspective” – Plein Air Painting

Location: Meet at Brookside Gardens

Class 8) June 6 – Plein Air Painting

Location: Meet at Brookside Gardens

Suggested Material List for Oil Paint

This is predominantly an oil painting class but if you would like to use a different medium, that’s totally fine with me!  I have an extensive background in most 2D mediums and am happy to work with you one on one.


Oil painters- I recommend a BIG wood pallet for studio work or one attached to plein air box.  If you are in the market for a new setup, let me know and I can talk to you in more detail



*4-6 canvas boards/panels/canvases 

I only paint on panel now, but you are welcome to use canvas if you prefer the light weight properties. I make my own, but panels made by “Ampersand” with a ¾” cradle are very comparable.  One day paintings can be small sizes (between 10×10 and 16×16).   Format and orientation are up to you and your subject matter.


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

Typically, I use expensive sable brushes but great options are “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 like a variety of brushes like filbert, round, and flat brushes.



“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”)

“Alkyd” Walnut oil (made by M.Graham)  or just Walnut Oil (artist grade, not from grocery store)

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



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

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 Oil Paint Colors (small tubes, 37-40ml)  My favorite brand is “M. Graham Paint” especially the earth tones.  I also like Holbein and Gamblin brands to fill in the gaps of paint colors not covered my M. Graham.  Williamsburg paint is also really nice and has a tone of great colors. 

Cadmium Lemon Yellow (optional), Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Orange (optional), Cadmium Red, Quinacridone Magenta, (Permanent) Alizarin Crimson (optional), Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, Viridian Green, Sap Green (optional), Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Siena, Burnt Umber, Ivory Black, Titanium White (Big tube)

Other (fantastic) colors – Bohemian Earth Green (Williamsburg brand), Juane Brilliant (as a substitute for Naples Yellow), Flake White (as a substitute for Titanium White), Cobalt Teal (Gamblin), Cadmium Green Pale or Cinnabar Green (Williamsburg), Radiant Blue (Gamblin)

UMBRELLA- GET ONE:  This is to protect you and the canvas from the sun.

One option – “Sport-Brella Versa-Brella SPF 50+ Adjustable Umbrella with Universal Clamp” – Amazon for $30

Or if you already know you want to do plein air a lot… “Easy L” makes a great one

Additional Defense Against the Great Outdoors

Sunscreen, Allergy Meds, Bug Spray OR Better yet “Thermacell Patio Shield Mosquito Repeller”, Sun Visor or Hat, Bottle of Water, Snacks,

Bull Dog Clips, Bungee Cords, Collapsible Stool, business cards to hand out (ya never know)

Register Here
J Jordan Bruns, Classes, Glen Echo Park, Yellow Barn, Art Clinic
Brookside Gardens

NOTE: Note that this is a VERY fluid and flexible schedule.  When the weather is lousy, I would prefer to lecture and work on growth exercises rather than struggle though paintings that will never be my best.  The first four weeks will be at Glen Echo Park, then starting on May 16 we will meet at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton.  This is a fabulous location to paint, and it checks all my plein air teaching boxes- Parking, facilities and scenery.  I will send a weekly email but please check your email in the AM if the weather looks iffy.  I will also pass out my cell number to students the first day of class.