| 08 December, 2013 10:33
I've recently started practicing the painting of roses. They make a perfect subject for painting for obvious reasons, their color and their extravagant shape, but also for philosophical reasons as they remind us of purity and strength in the Christian religion. The "Alla Prima" painting tecnique means that they will be painted in one session, even if that session is ten hours long, and it will all be painted wet into wet. In painting wet into wet, it is impotant to add medium to the subsequent layers so the paint will flow overtop.
Here is a photograph of my still life set up. I have chosen a deep forest green dropcloth for the background and a violet fabric for the table top. The large roses are a light pink and are real. The small flowers are plastic. I chose them to add variety to the shapes in the composition. The light source is a spot light from above and to the left of the subject. Notice the shadow on the right. A large shadow mass can give unity to the design, allowing the viewer to read the picture from far away.
I'm starting with a toned panel measuring 18 X 22 inches. A toned panel is a panel that I have painted a very thin layer or silvery gray acrylic paint over and left to dry for a couple of days. I enjoy working on a toned panel because it allows me to know what middle tone gray is, and I can go darker and lighter. It's like middle C on the piano.
The very first thing I do is a drawing of the composition. I do this with thinned out raw umber. I thin out the paint with Gamsol, which is an oderless solvent. I draw the big shapes with a # 12 flat hog's hair brush and wipe out the lights with a rag dipped in Gamsol.
When I start adding color, I look at the color in the light, first. I mix up a middle tone light of that color and put that in. When I've put in all the different color in the light, then I look for the appropriate shadow color and paint that last. I try to improve the shapes as I go, I keep my paint thin and try not to see too much detail by squinting my eyes.
The second time I go around at my color and find three very specific colors and their tones. For the dark centers of the roses, I used pure permanent rose. For the shadowiny side of the rose I mixed in the violet from the tablecloth and the forest green from the background. For the middle tone lights in the rose I used pure persian rose. For the petals in highlight, I mixed a lot of white and a bit of cadmium lemon into the persian rose. I mixed oily medium into all of my paint at this stage to get it to flow over the paint that was already there. I also switched from hog's hair bristle brushes to softer brushes, like ox hair, sable and synthetics. The paint is quite thick in places.
This is ten hours of painting. At this point it is completely "AIla Prima". I could leave it like this or go over a few areas later, but ony when the paint will be completely dry, so as not to drag the tender surface layer down.