Friday, February 10, 2012

Laguna Beach Heisler Park

Starting a beach scene from reference photos my son and daughter in law sent me. Using the ala prima method, but am going to spread it out over a couple of sessions because I still have to do my day job. This is session one.

Sowa Studio

I attended a great Ala Prima workshop in portland oregon in late January with Thomas Jefferson Kitts. The location was Kat Sowa's fantastic studio in north portland beneath the St. Johns Bridge. Good old Oregon, very "Twilight" like....Her studio is every artist's dream.


A notan is a black and white composition study using in this case, five values. The idea is to clump things into five value masses and compose those masses into interesting abstract shapes with lost edges, hard edges and descriptive brush work. Ala Prima means to do a complete painting in one session, with no sketching, or 'cat licking' of the canvas. You premix your five paint values on your palette and apply the paint with confident strokes. Thomas said " A confident stroke is more important than being right." The method of applying paint communicates to the viewer. Then, since it was not the end of the day and I had more time, I added more details and took it to a finished level. Thomas listened to my detailed plan of attack and said to me "stop overthinking everything!"

My color Ala Prima

Here is my ala prima still life. About three and half hours total time.

thomas' notan

Thomas Jefferson Kitts workshop

Notan demonstration. Link the five values into five masses. The abstract shapes of these masses have to be cloning, lots and lots of composition issues to deal with as well as lost edges, hard edges, eye flow etc etc. etc. I am seeing 'notan' in everything now. Very interesting.


We worked in a five value Notan using Raw Umber and white. The idea is to premix your five chosen values and not intermix any of them on the palette or on the canvas. Use expressive brushstrokes and above all, do not 'cat lick' the canvas. Put the stroke down and leave it alone. Thomas said "a confident stroke is more important than being right." Dab dab dabbing reads as tentative to the eye.

Ala Prima workshop

Here is the color ala prima painting of the still life