Sunday, 22 January 2012

Re-reading my Art books

Re-read no.1
Al Gury - Alla Prima A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Direct Painting

A really simple, easy to read but precise book covering all the techniques and terms used in Alla Prima or direct painting.  Interestingly I thought Alla Prima meant painting in one session which Al Gury says it is in his simplest form, where you draw with a brush readjusting and redrawing as you go, but he also describes it as being where a variety of technical effects can also used and developed over a number of painting sessions.  This is as opposed to indirect painting where you have a refined and linear underpainting and then layers of paint creating optical effects.  These terms are important to get straight in your head so I'll take Al's word for it as he has an impressive CV and obviously know his stuff.  In the book there are lots of excellent examples from his own work, his teachers and the masters and lots of really great and important reminders about what you should and shouldnt do.  For example he reminds the reader many times that blending must not be overdone and is not a technique to be used for its own sake. He suggests it is only done at the end of each painting session or when preparting for the next.  He says that maintaining the textures and variety are important to give the painting its strength and overblending flattens the form and destroys the light and dark contrast.  Of course we all know this dont we, but I am definately a repeat offender.

I bought this book last May and read it immediately but obviously you dont take everything in on one read, learning is about getting the right bit of wisdom at the right time.  Its a really useful book with stacks of information and good to dip in and out of, definately one I am pleased I bought. I think I first heard of Al Gury on Mike Manleys blog, (and I highly recommend back reading that) otherwise it probably wouldnt have found its way into my consciousness.   One day I may try the seven layer flemish technique but I think I am definately more comfortable with Alla Prima.  Following the rule of no post without a picture here's one I did earlier, about two years ago!


  1. You write a mean review Tina :) I’ll add the book to my wish list, thanks, Dave

  2. Hi Dave,
    Thanks, I've got a lot of reading to do this year so you might get some more recommendations.