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Flower Alla Prima Oil Sketches

Orange Dahlias, 9x9, oil on linen

Ever since I got a lesson from Michael Klein in direct-method flower painting a couple months ago I’ve wanted to try it again, and once I got home from France I finally had a chance.

Tiny Rose Arrangement, 8x10, oil on linen

The landscape painting also was a good warm-up for direct method painting in the studio. I usually paint Indirect, or Flemish method - where I work in many layers, allowing each layer to dry completely before applying more paint.

Scattered Flowers, 14x18, oil on linen

With Direct method, wet paint is layered over wet paint, and most of the strokes of paint you make will be visible in the final piece. The goal is to get the correct hue, value, chroma, and edge down in each stroke, without adjusting.

For these paintings I am using New Traditions L600 lead-primed linen which comes in big rolls you can cut to the size you need.

I started each painting with an underpainting just using Burnt Umber to work out the composition, basic values, and placement of the objects.

I used Rosemary brushes which I like a lot, they are totally different than the more controlled Robert Simmons white sable brushes I use for Indirect painting.

Red Lilies, 12x16, oil on linen

All of these paintings were done alla prima, meaning in a single day’s painting session. Direct painting can be done in one session or over many days or weeks, but each stroke is painted as it is meant to be seen in the final painting.

And now I’m back to my regular Indirect method, as I have been working the last few days on a preparatory drawing for a new piece which will take me about a month to complete. I won’t have much time to paint in the next few weeks, between teaching my workshop, various short travels, and attending Weekend with the Masters, but it’s been fun to start at least.


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Reader Comments (10)

Sadie these are beautiful works of art! It is wonderful how you adapted your painting to alla prima.

August 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrahina qh

Sorry I'm late to comment on these Sadie, have been too busy to keep up with people's blogs lately.

But these are just breath-taking. Did they feel very different to do than your more usual method? Is it something you think you might do more of? going on the evidence you've posted here, I'd certainly like to see more!

Personally I always find a kind of deep exhaustion after alla prima painting, something to do with having to hold a high level of concentration for the whole painting.

August 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Thanks Rahina and Paul!
I think I will be doing more, as I can fit them in. They are a nice break from my usual method. Yes, the level of concentration - and suspense! - is very different than in indirect painting.
I'm tempted to go back to trying the "painting a day" exercise I dipped into 5 years ago.... if I could figure out how to spend less than an hour on a very small postcard alla prima painting each day, and save the rest of my studio day for my indirect paintings, that would be satisfying. But they tend to take me most the studio day to do just one :)

August 21, 2011 | Registered CommenterSadie Valeri

Paul I have a hard time keeping up with reading others' blogs these days, too - Facebook is so much easier, but still hard to keep up with everyone!

August 21, 2011 | Registered CommenterSadie Valeri

Wow. looks nice and fresh because of its natural and simple designs. It has light colors that is very relaxing.
I love painting and I want to be a good painter also like you. Painting is very difficult, the color combination, talent and creativity. that's why, I appreciated painters because of that unique talents and it is God's grace to every individual.

the paintings are gorgeous! my personal favorite are the third and fourth piece..nevertheless you make the all flowers pop out of the painting.

September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJune | booklet printing

Major congrats, Sadie, I just received via email a couple of your updates, I am really excited about your spread in Artist's Magazine.
Much deserved. Continued happiness and good things your way. Tina

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTSL

These are lovely

September 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Griffin Thibodeaux

Wow, Sadie! One painting in one session - you must have felt like you were flying! But I'm happy you have come back to your exquisite Flemish method -the world still needs that kind of beautiful nuance and sensitivity.

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Barlow

Sadie, you did the fabulous job! Personally I loved the flower painting because flowers are always my favorite. Awesome painting.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOil Paintings
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