Alla Prima: Painting at a comfortable speed

Alla Prima and how to paint comfortably, neither too slow nor too fast

Paint at a comfortable speed, not too fast or too slow.
When people think about painting there prima, they usually imagine an artist painting in a wave of activity as the color quickly fills the canvas. But there’s no premium, it doesn’t need to be fast. It shouldn’t be slow either.

You have to work at a pace that’s comfortable for you. A pace fast enough to allow some instinct to take control, but slow enough to maintain control and make informed decisions.

Also, keep in mind that what may seem fast to you can be slow and controlled for someone else. That’s usually the case when fans watch teachers paint. The teachers make it look effortless, as they seem to throw paint on the canvas without hesitation. But for them, everything feels slow and under control.

Joaquin Sorolla On The Rocks At Javea
Joaquin Sorolla On The Rocks At Javea

It was known that Joaquín Sorolla painted very fast, but that’s what he thought was comfortable. He once said:

“I couldn’t paint at all if I had to paint slowly … Each effect is so transient that it needs to be painted quickly.”

Joaquín Sorolla, On The Rocks At Javea, 1905

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