Artist Statement. Direct Painting

Direct Painting
(also known as "alla prima" or "premier coup") 

The direct painting techniques I demonstrate and teach allow you to -

  • embrace your essential nature 
  • express your individuality through the act of painting 
  • study and respond to what is before you, around you and within you.

As a consequence your art will be true, unique and original.

The essence of 'Direct Painting' is to complete the painting in a single session. 
The essential nature of "premier coup" is the single deft stroke of the brush or knife.

'Direct Painting' as I teach it in my workshops and demonstrations, uses these principles, together with particular processes and sequences in order to sucessfully complete small oil sketches in a single session.

Of course, while painting fast can convey a lyrical expression of joy, done wrongly it can as readily produce a muddy mess. The purpose of the exercises and techniques demonstrated and taught in the workshops is to enhance the one, and avoid the other.

'Direct Painting'whether done in the studio, or outdoors (en plein air) is a method of producing small paintings quickly.  The single best way of making progress as a realist painter is to paint a lot of paintings.  Therefore, someone who paints a hundred small paintings in three months will be a more accomplished painter than one who labours over a single large painting over the same period of time.

In golf they always say, "Drive for show, putt for money."    In Art, big paintings are impressive. They make your reputation. (If they are done well.) But it is in the many small paintings that you learn your craft, and refine your skills. It is that craft and those skills you need in order to be able to paint those large, show-stopping pieces.



I believe originality as an artist comes from being true to who you are, where you are.

  • You are a unique individual. Even within your family, noone is quite like you. 
  • You have your particular preferences. 
  • You have your own emotional response to whatever you choose to study or paint. 
  • You choose the media you enjoy, the tools you are comfortable with. 
  • You have your own individual handwriting or mark making.

As an art teacher for many years I never saw two students work exactly the same way. Even the work of teenage girls who were best friends, and wanted to be twinsies, worked side by side, and collaborated at every turn, could be distinguished.

Your individuality is set  -  It cannot be expunged.
It can be disguised  -  It can be denied.
But is is always there. It is in your DNA.

At the same time, where and when you are is also unique.


This day is like no other. Superficially every leaf on a tree is the same. But under close scrutiny each leaf is different.

Every day may seem to start out the same old same old. However, on examination it stands alone. The news you hear, the papers you read, the people you meet, the light on the hill, the clouds which pass overhead, the waves on the beach - all subtlely different, all the time, always.

The books you read  - 
The images you study  -  The genre you use.
All these define and clarify where and what you are, 
as well as who you are.

The hardest advice we are ever given is: "Unto thine own self be true".