Alla prima, literally means ‘at first’. This term describes the ‘wet on wet’ painting technique, otherwise known as ‘direct painting’, where the artist completes a painting in one sitting much like plein air painting.

Below is my process for alla prima painting. Follow these simple and important tips for a successful painting:

  • First lay in the darks
    • Keep the darks thin and transparent
    • Paint dark to light
    • Dark = Transparent
    • Light = Impasto
  • Next build up the lights
    • Allow the lights to get thick and impasto.
    • Paint thin to thick
    • Thin = Transparent
    • Thick = Impasto
  • Mass in the shapes
    • For the most part, I start my paintings with massing in the shapes as opposed to a drawing.
    • This allows my “direct paintings” to stay loose and painterly.
    • On occasions, I will start with a drawing but, mass is my choice.
  • Value
    • Establishing value in the very beginning is so important.
  • Focal Point
    • Generally speaking, I will try to keep my center of interest developed ahead of the rest of the painting at all times.
  • Keep focused
    • A constant vigil on contrasts and comparisons is made throughout the process.
    • It’s so easy to go off on a tangent and develop the parameters of the painting but, this can also be the demise of the work as well.

~Alfred Currier


Residing in the Northwest region of the United States, Washington State artist, Alfred Currier, paints vibrant landscapes in oil impasto from the studio he maintains in Anacortes. Plein air painting provides most of his inspiration. Currier has travelled widely, painting on location in Greece, France, Italy, Holland, Argentina, Mexico, Hawaii, Santa Fe, Taos. We are lucky to have him share his tip with us!
For more information about this talented artist, please check out Alfred’s interesting and informative blog and lively website


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Happy Painting, ~Lori