Monday, November 1, 2010

OLD FRIEND: Part II: Ala Prima vs. Photoshop

Old Friend
John Currie
oil on panel
9" x 12"

OK, OK, don't have a cow. I usually paint plein air and ala prima--once I put down my paint brushes and my Open Box M pochade box and easel are packed away, I'm done. The painting is finished. I'm an ala prima prima donna. Every now and then, though, I find myself in a situation as I did with the original version of this painting (shown below). It just isn't right. It doesn't frost my cookie.

So I dug up a photo which I took on location for reference and popped it up on my monitor (photos displayed on even an average monitor are a much better representation of actual nature than any print). Then, I took my scan of the original painting into Photoshop (gasp!) and played around with some options. Using top-secret technology stolen from the Russians, I made a rough modification using the scan as the background. I warmed up the hay in the barn behind the truck (in order to better separate the truck from the background), cut in some dry, straw-colored grass and dirt in the foreground (both to better capture the essence of what I actually saw) and to provide more interest in the foreground, gently leading the eye in from the left edge towards the truck) and chose to paint in sky behind the fence and tree at left. I liked the results, so I went back to the original painting, put it back on my easel, and painted the changes in oil.

There is a great book with a great title by a great graphic designer, Bob Gill: "Forget All the Rules in Graphic Design (Including All the Ones in This Book)". That's pretty much how I feel about art and the process. Love it. Or play with it, toss it around, give it a good massage.

I took it back into the studio. I turned my back on ala prima. So let the storms of protest begin.

© 2010 John Currie


  1. I'm with Bob Gill - forget all the rules!
    no different than doing a quick color study to figure it out, Photoshop is just another tool...

    ...oh crap, here come the art police again...

    great painting, btw!

  2. I love seeing your work and reading your words John! Great work on both