Way back in September I was using a ‘watercolour’ technique (using White Spirits instead of water, see here) to try and produce transparent shadow areas in an oil painting. I discovered that the oil colours did not have sufficient transparency for the technique to be successful.
Alkyd colours are much more transparent than their equivalent oils. This is stated in the description of the colours and at the time I did not pay much attention to this as certain oil colours are also regarded as transparent. Alkyds are noticeably more transparent. You can see this in the video below. So I will be returning to explore further the use of ‘washes’ of darker colour to build up the shadow areas. This time, however, I will be using Alkyd colours.
On the subject of watercolour techniques, there is another use of Alkyd colour which is similar to this medium. Its where darker colours are placed on top of lighter washes previously applied. In alla prima, this is not possible as placing a darker colour on a wet lighter colour usually makes a mess. Washes of Alkyd colour in White Spirits dries almost at once. So, unusually, its possible to move from light to dark colours and then back to putting dark on the light colours, in a single painting session. This is a powerful advantage to an alla prima painter. An example of this is in painting dark clouds onto a light blue sky containing white in the blue mix.
All in all, my experience so far using this medium is positive. Many of the limitations I was experiencing with standard oils alone are no longer an issue. For me, it makes painting an oil painting alla prima, wet on wet, single session or whatever, a lot easier.
Here is the video of the above painting. See you soon.