MCC News & Updates

Meet Our Instructors: Julia Chen, Painter

On July 8, Educational Alliance Art School is back with four and eight week classes in ceramics, painting, and mixed media. For our painters, we will be offering two new four-week classes on Saturdays with longtime Teaching Artist, Julia Chen. These classes are designed as crash-courses in techniques that will push your painting to the next level, or start your practice off on the right foot. Julia took the time to speak to us about her two new classes, Alla Prima Oil Painting and Color Mixing for Oil Painting – learn more below:

Tell us a bit about your two upcoming summer classes.

I am excited to teach two short four-week courses on Saturdays this summer, one is Alla Prima Oil Painting and the other Color Mixing for Oil Painting. We have covered Alla Prima in one or two of my classes in the past, but I’ve been contemplating for teaching one dedicated course on Alla Prima alone for quite a while.

We use a different approach and method when you paint wet-on-wet, versus painting on dried layers. Lots of impressionist paintings were done in Alla Prima and you can see that immediacy and fluidity in paint handling.

Color Mixing for Oil Painting is also a dedicated course on learning how to match the colors that you see or imagine the colors on your palette. I wanted to make a fun course on color theory and easy ways to express yourself by mixing and experimenting with colors.

How did you decide on the subject matter? How will these techniques help our student painters?

There are basically two types of oil paintings, one is indirect or slow painting that builds on layers of thin paint and that could take months or longer to finish. The other is direct or Alla Prima where you finish the painting in one session. Each has its own techniques and approaches. I’ve been teaching indirect painting during the fall, winter, and spring terms where each week we apply a new layer of paint and let it dry before applying the next one. Summer is a great time to change that up and introduce Alla Prima to those who are interested in learning a method that will give you one new painting every week.

Color Mixing for Oil Painting stems from my students’ request for a course dedicated on color mixing alone. Often times in my Portrait or Still-Life classes, they would comment “We need a color theory course!” when they tried to match the oil colors to what they see on their subjects. This class will help fill that student request, and master this part of their practice. Though the class was build out of this need, it can be taken by returning students and beginners alike.

What can students expect to achieve by the end of the class?

In my opinion, Alla Prima takes a little more skill to do well. At the end of the course, students will have more confidence to tackle quick paintings with wet-on-wet paint. And for Color Mixing, it will take out the frustration of not being able to match the color they see. Students will have a clear concept of color theory and knowledge to confidently mixing colors they see whether in still-life, portrait or landscape.

How have the techniques you will be teaching affected your own artistic practice?

I like Alla Prima, it captures the feel when you first see your subjects, it’s fresh, immediate and gratifying. In fact, some of my large paintings were developed from the smaller Alla Prima pieces that I’ve painted. Color wise, I know how to achieve color harmony in my paintings and it helps me fix problems such a chalkiness, incorrect color temperature, dull greys, and more.


To see our full list of Summer course offerings, and learn about Educational Alliance Art School at Manny Cantor Center, visit www.mannycantor.org/art. You can also take advantage of limited time discounts by visiting our website. Sign up for a class today!