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ALLA PRIMA literally means ‘at first attempt’ and aims to achieve the final effect in one sitting. Careful forethought and preparation are required before the brushstrokes are applied to the painting, ensuring precision and accuracy.

In classic alla prima, rapidly applied strokes are used while the paint surface is still wet - paying careful attention to the separation of drawing, coloring and modeling. The result being comparable in its subtleties to those of the more time- consuming techniques. Such can be seen in the treatment of the arms pictured above.

Velazquez, Rubens and Hals demonstrated a proficiency in classic alla prima painting. Modern alla prima was later adopted and practiced by the Impressionists.


GESSO FRESCO produces the look and feel of fresco surfaces on the painted canvas. Here, the white gesso ground is built up in thick layers with various knives. Oil paint is then applied and quickly removed, leaving a stained effect upon the textured areas.

Buon Fresco, or true fresco, is a method of painting into wet lime plaster. Pigment grounds mixed in water were applied to the surface and bound themselves as the plaster dried.

The gesso fresco method is accentuated in certain areas of the canvas (as shown above in the handling of the figure), giving the painting’s surface a tonal and textural quality similar to those found on ancient frescoed walls.


SCUMBLING is another method of glazing using films of opaque color over a secondary color. The effect may show through only in certain areas, giving the surface added depth. In most instances the scumble glaze is of a lighter tone than the color beneath.

Normally applied with a brush, scumbles are often dragged, pushed or stippled over the surface depositing a veiled residue of color. Skimming thick paint across the underlying color may also achieve a scumbled effect.

In the detail shown above, Moser has applied a semi-opaque White Lead glaze over most of the flesh tones. The areas were then pushed over with a stiffened brush.



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