Alla Prima, as you probably know, is painting a picture in the one session, wet on wet. There are limitations and in this painting I tried a difficult subject for Alla Prima, semi-transparent smoke. Although a relatively small painting (37 x 27 cm), it took over 2 hours to paint. Much of the time was spent preparing the background to receive the ‘smoke’. Leaving a patch for the ‘smoke paint’ would be restrictive as the final position of the column of smoke is decided on what has happened to the rest of the composition up to this point in the painting. So the entire area has to be uniform to allow for this flexibility. Preparing for the ‘smoke’ means painting with no medium, and in this painting adding loads of details with very ‘thin’ layers of paint. Using solvent alone would only produce a flat ‘texture of the canvas’ colour and I needed light glowing through the trees.
Firstly, use paints which are compatible and produce a mix which is not ‘deadened’ by the almost pure white ‘smoke paint’ which is placed on top. As the technique is ‘wet on wet’ there will invariably be mixing of the colours with the white. The shape and appearance of the smoke column is similar to clouds in the sky. This means blending the paint, softening the edges but this will remove all background details in this supposedly transparent vapour. Background details will have to be re-established by repainting into the layer of smoke.
The colours used are: Burnt Sienna (red), Yellow Ochre (yellow) and Cobalt Blue (blue). Also, Chrome Green Light and Raw Umber, and black and white. I know from experience that these colours, when mixed, produce clean colours even with the addition of white.
The video of the process will take a few days to produce and I will post it then.