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Alla Prima: Everything I Know about Painting [Hardcover]

Richard Schmid
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 193 pages
  • Publisher: Stove Prairie Press; Revised edition (Nov 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966211715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966211719
  • Product Dimensions: 26.9 x 22.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 777,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid! 14 May 2010
Format:Hardcover
If you are interested in direct painting then there is no finer book on the subject than this. I only wish that I had gotten it 15 years earlier. It focuses on a specific methodology for creating paintings but also has an absolute wealth of very sophisticated information that does not pertain to any one particular technique.
I have read it through twice and dip back in regularly. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Treat yourself!
One thing to note is that there is no need to pay the exorbitant prices it goes for through private sellers. You can buy it directly from the author's site for under $50.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant book by a master painter 24 Mar 2010
Format:Hardcover
this book is know in many artistic circles as a sort of painting bible. schmid describes his concept clearly and defiantly, even if he misses talking about some critical subjects for the amateur or beginner. this book though expensive is worth more in therms of artistic growth than 1000 other lesser books. if after reading this book your painting doesn't improve , you are already brilliant or you need to give up painting as you will probably never learn. his method is to break painting down in to manageable tasks so as not to overwhelm the artist. it is more a book about technique and accuracy than design, though he does touch on it in places. but there are already many good books on design, including carslons guide to landscape painting (which i recommend, even for portrait artists like myself) schmids book is by far the best book on the application of paint ive ever read, and ive read alot.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No. 3 Aug 2013
By alvin
Format:Hardcover
I am giving this book an "below average" rating due to it;s price and content. I really do not think that the content in this book is worth such a high price. I know Richard Schmid is considered one of our modern masters of art, but even our old masters did not charge that high for their students to learn.
Everything he explains here is so basic. Anyone who has gone to life drawing/painting classes and have read this book, they both tell you no different, it is all the same basic methods of painting. What i mean by the basic methods are; squinting and simplifying, blurred vs sharp edges, measuring, colour temperatures, etc.
It is also the way the book is written. His sense of humour is kind of cliché, but in general, it is kind of written in a conversation as if someone is giving you advice. But for me personally, everything sounded quite dull.
I have tried reading this book again, but i still stick to my opinion.
You can find other cheaper and better books that can teach on the same subject, but i think people like this book is because they just want to hear from a master.

The positive side of this book has to go the works shown by Richard Schmid. They are really beautiful.
Another thing, there is a chapter on "Colour Chart" and it tells you how to make one, and why it is important to have one in your studio. I think that is the most helpful use of advice in the book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what's on an artist mind 3 Nov 2009
Format:Hardcover
So, you are a painter.
And you are going to live on a deserted island.
And you can only take one painting book.
Well.. dont take this one.
Unless...
Unless you take your brushes and your paints and your canvas too!
Because, If you dont, you will suffer.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expensive book, and worth three times as much! 27 July 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is by far the best book I have ever seen on the subject of oil painting. Not only do you get to admire many lucious images of a modern master's work, Richard Schmid generously shares his knowlege with humour, clarity and detail. A long look at both the technical and emotional aspects of painting, written with great commitment and depth. Though the price is daunting, consider it a worthy indulgence. You could buy ten other books on this subject and still not obtain such a complete reference source as this one book. On top of the excellent content, the book is beautifully made to last a lifetime (and more!), and printed on top quality paper. Splurge on this; you won't be disapointed!
74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SIX STARS! Learn how to observe and to do DIRECT PAINTING 21 Feb 2006
By Inti Cristobal Santamaría Bolaños - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I can hardly praise this book enough. It is full of experience and concrete knowledge.

The text is made of 10 chapters, plus an introduction:

1. Good ideas and free advice

2. Direct painting

3. Starting

4. Drawing

5. Values

6. Edges

7. Color and light

8. Composition

9. Technique

10. The magic

It has 193 pages, and is full of Schmid's paintings, almost all of them oils.

WHAT THIS BOOK TEACHES YOU:

It teaches you how to OBSERVE 3-D REALITY AND TRANSLATE IT ON A FLAT SURFACE AS DIRECTLY AS YOU CAN. The way of achieving it is to paint LIGHT ITSELF (what you see), not the very object with descriptive minutiae (what you know). Meticulous and painstaking painting tends to be naive in most hands.

Schmid asks you to clear up your mind and trust your instinct. THE HOW BECOMES OBVIOUS ONCE YOU UNDERSTAND THE WHAT AND THE WHY.

Some of his most insistent advices are: keep it SIMPLE; don't overwork; don't use ostentatious techniques; don't make random guessing brushstrokes; do a minimum of trial and error (correction wastes time); rather be BOLD than shy, but do it without hurrying and without any thoughtless bravado. Also, EXCESSIVE BLENDING IS LIKE MUMBLING WHEN YOU SPEAK.

He teaches you that, as you start, you sholud focus on one specific problem. Set a GOAL and do it in the time available. Limiting your time helps to SIMPLIFY your works. SIMPLIFY values by SQUINTING. If edges remain sharp when you squint, paint them sharp; if they go fuzzy, paint them fuzzy. Trust your squinting.

Schmid insists on the fact that, unlike common belief, most mistakes happen with drawing, not with colour. He says there is no comprehensive colour law; but there's something close to it: COOL LIGHT PRODUCES WARM SHADOWS, AND WARM LIGHT PRODUCES COOL SHADOWS. His palette has as many as 12 colours, not one more, because more than that is unnecessary (and often, the fewer colours, the better), as we can see in the colour charts--a perfect way of mixing all colours with one another until exhasusting all possible combinations of two colours plus white. (Besides, don't overmix, or else you'll obtain MUD colour.)

He recommends: Cadmium Yellow Pale, Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Yellow Ochre Light, Cadmium Red, Terra Rosa, Alizarin Crimson, Transparent Oxide Red, Viridian, Cobalt Blue Light, Ultramarine Blue Deep, Titanium White. There is no black, since he uses different mixtures of browns or reds with blue for getting a substitute for black.

He says what good lighting is for painting.

His ideas about colour harmony and composition are very down-to-earth and full of common sense. No mystic babblings or over-intelectualized theories.

WHAT THIS BOOK DOESN'T TEACH YOU:

It doesn't deal with technical intricacies about different kinds of canvases, papers, grounds, turpentine, brushes, easels, palettes, and materials in general. (Pigments do have his full attention.)It doesn't ignore technique, but it's not the core of the text. (For that subject, you can read Ralph Mayer's book on materials.) Since the book deals with painting in general no matter what medium you use, it doesn't speak about classical Old Master examples (no Leonardo, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Hals, Rubens or any painter in particular). You can apply the lessons to oils, acrylics, tempera, gouache, or even watercolour. By the way, there's a very brief part about using the palette knife, which obviously couldn't be applied to watercolour, for instance. Since the book focuses on Direct Painting the way Sorolla, Sargent or many late-19th century arists did (without mentioning them much), you will find no details about Renaissance or Baroque ways of applying paint. There are not many words about glazing, for instance. There are no words about perspective or anatomy, either, for this is not a handbook for painting specific subjects, but about how to observe light and colour in general.

I love this book! Had I found and read it a long time ago, I wolud have saved years of an agonizing, careless and method-less hit-and-miss process that had no sense at all in my learning.

Schmid has a very specific method. Maybe it's not meant for all painters, but if you love Sorolla or Sargent, this is THE METHOD for you, no matter whether you are a mere beginner or an experienced artist. And even if you aim at a very different style than that of the artists just mentioned, this book can help you a lot. Trust me!

(By the way, Schmid gives very good advice at his site: [...]
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Book About Painting 25 Aug 2003
By Gypsy Moth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
With this book in hand, I could throw out all 4 dozen or so books on painting I've purchased in the past. Schmid clearly describes the factors necessary to paint well as well as his suggestions on tools with which to do it. His chapters on edges and values alone are indispensible to artists, beginners or professional.
His writing style is very easy to read and understand and there are more than a few laughs laced throughout. It's a keeper and I'll be going back and rereading until the pages are tattered and worn.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Save Money 6 Sep 2006
By Painter Dude - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a great book which I refer to repeatedly. BUT, I bought it used at Amazon for a rip-off price. Lots of people are complaining about the high price, so do yourself a favor and google his name to go to his web-site. Much cheaper there!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for any painter 13 Sep 2001
By Some Dude In L.A. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is rare for an artist to have contact with and guidance from a master. Though this book cannot replace personal instruction, it is the next best thing. Schmid, in his book, tends toward the thought processes involved in his work, a valuable and hard-to-find resource. The book also demonstrates the sober, as opposed to flighty, attitude of the master painter.
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