Monday, January 16, 2012

Alla Prima Velázquez

Tonight I enjoyed a 3 1/2 hour alla prima session in the studio.  I thought I'd do a copy, and of course I chose a self portrait by Velázquez. 

Master copy of Diego Velázquez: Self Portrait
oil on canvas
14x11 inches

He was certainly a master of alla prima painting, though in most of his portraits he used a technique called scumbling, in which he would paint over surfaces that had already dried, ensuring that the paint he was applying would not mix with the layers already on the canvas.  This gave his paintings their trademark appearance, with individual strokes of paint that you can see seemingly dancing on the canvas.  He certainly did some alla prima paintings, but the one I copied tonight was probably not one of them, as the dry brush scumbling is very clearly evident in the original. 
Whatever the case, all I can say is what the infamous Salvador Dalí said of Velázquez:  "His genius surpasses the art of painting itself."

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