OCAD Studio: Alla Prima Still Life Part 3

This project is based on the ‘alla prima’ method which means that the painting is completed all at once – in a single sitting before the paint dries.

Following on from Part 2, here are a few suggestion for carrying on your painting:

  1. Now that all the major shapes and colours are established, you can begin adding details and blendings to create softer edges.
  1. You can use a dry brush to soften transitions where necessary, this can be helpful if you want to make blend brush strokes together. 
  1. You don’t want things getting muddy so you need to clean your brushes regularly with your thinner. 
  1. You can start using much smaller brushes. This will allow you to add more subtle textures and fine lines where necessary.
  1. You can alter colours and values by painting into the wet paint. For example – if you need to shift the hue of a green to be more blue just paint a little bit of blue into the green on the painting. This saves mixing lots of new colours and/or overloading the paint surface.
  1. To finish, make sure that you have reinforced the darks and lights sufficiently. It is common for the lightest whites and darkest black to become a bit muddied during an alla prima painting. I recommend that the last thing you do is repaint the brightest highlights in pure white and the darkest shadows in pure black.


  • You can work in either oils or acrylics, using your preferred colours.
  • You can work on any type of surface; panel, paper, canvas etc. ideally prepared with a brown or grey-brown tone but you can work over white.
  • I recommend limiting the number of brushes to 2-4 of varying sizes and cleaning them when necessary. 
  • You will need a medium to thin your paint (mineral spirits for oils or water for acrylics).

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