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In the Studio This Week – Alla Prima Limited Palettes and a Cute Sketch

In the studio this week, I amazed myself with “completing” three Alla Prima limited palette paintings and a sketch from the Kaleidoscope 2023 course. I was amazed because it was Thanksgiving holiday, I had company for a few days, and didn’t feel well for a good part of the time.

The Alla Prima painting concept is to complete a painting quickly, not more than a few hours, preferably less. This helps an artist to look closely at colors and values and every brushstroke is to be placed properly. I must say this has been a challenge for me.

White-on-White Alla Prima Painting

The concept here is to work the painting by mixing several colors of white. The palette is not so much limited as you use many colors to mix as many versions of white as necessary to capture the darks, midtones, and highlights. I chose this rose:

Photo of a white rose

I felt the rose image would be relatively easy compared to some of the other sources offered by the Mastery Program. I was wrong. Although I think I captured the shape of the rose, I struggled with the values and colors. The resulting painting looks flat to me.

Acrylic painting of a rose done in white-on-white Alla Prima style

Black-on-Black Alla Prima Painting

This concept is similar to the white-on-white painting, but you use warm and cool blacks on a black background to define the subject. I chose this cat, again thinking it might be easy.

Photo of a black cat

This was the result at the end of the few hours. The light colors needed to highlight the whiskers and lighter hairs just mixed in with the still-set black paint resulting in a muddy gray.

Alla Prima painting of a black cat

I went back in after it dried some and attempted to further define the hairs. I think this one is better than the rose painting. Do you agree?

Black cat painting with white whiskers and hairs

Limited Palette with One Color

This technique uses one main color and all colors used have at least a little of the main color mixed in to give unity.

I chose a blue color scheme and a reference photo of staircase in Greece, I believe.

Photo of a staircase leading to a door alll in various colors of blue

I was really stuck on where to start with this but focused on the larger shapes. So much is off in the final painting, but I kind of like it. It reminds me of one of the Van Gogh interior room paintings. Do you see the resemblance?

Painting done with various shades of blue paint showing a staircase leading use to a blue door

Kaleidoscope 2023 Lesson

Trying to also fit in some of the Kaleidoscope 2023 lessons, I chose a lesson from Andrea Gomoll of Cre8tive Cre8tions. She is a German artist whose work is whimsical. Check out her website.


Her lesson was inspired by Astrid Lindgren of Pippi Longstocksings. I started the sketch and the ink line work for the next steps – watercolor and embellishment. I’m not sure when I’ll get back to finishing it, but I felt I needed to keep doing some of the lessons from Kaleidoscope as well as those from the Mastery Program.

Ink sketch of two children inspire by Astrid Lindgren stories


I’m pretty tired and in need of some rest. Next week’s lesson from the Mastery Program has me doing a self-portrait. I will let you know how that goes. Some scheduled breaks are not too far off, and I can use one!

Thank you again for keeping with me, through the highs and lows, the learning and the sharing.

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