Master Facts: Learning from Van Gogh

Wheatfield with Crows by Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh was a master of the Alla Prima painting technique. This method of painting involves quickly and confidently laying down layers of paint to capture the subject in the present without any preparatory sketches or the need to work into it at a later stage. Its name describes the technique beautifully coming from the Italian for 'at the first attempt'.

 The building up of wet layers of oil without them mixing with each other and becoming dull shades of brown is a challenging technique but, when mastered, it results in free, bold and, often, exciting paintwork and a vitality of colour.