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Painting Alla Prima

Tips for painting alla prima? I’d like to learn this style!

Read Richard Schmid’s book Alla Prima II


Thanks! I’ll check it out.

Carol Marine’s tutorials available on this site and her book, Daily Painting.


I agree, Richard Schmid’s Alla Prima is the best. And I’m not even an oil painter.


Alla prima basically means completing a painting while the paint is still wet (in oil painting).

It cuts out the real need to worry about the ‘fat over lean’ painting principle because everything dries at the same rate.
Usually you would complete a painting in one day or two or three days at most.

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When I do alla prima I usually do a coloured ground on the white canvas a few days before I intend to paint on it. The colour often is ochre but red or grey or raw Sienna works. It depends on what I want to paint. The coloured ground gives a middle tone and a chromatic contrast. This way you can go in and paint the whites of clouds and they pop. You can paint your darks. You have your middle tone.

The colour of the ground usually shows through the brushstrokes and this gives an overall atmosphere to the painting. If I paint the sea, I like a bit more of a red colour. Raw Sienna with quinacridone is a favorite.

Hope this helps some.


Thanks! That helped a lot. :slight_smile: