Pat Fiorello - Art Elevates Life

Art & Inspiration from professional artist and instructor Pat Fiorello. Pat is known for her romantic landscape, garden and floral paintings in oil and watercolor. Her paintings often depict beautiful places like Italy and France. Pat teaches painting workshops in the U.S., Caribbean and Europe. She is passionate about inspiring others to include art in their life. Whether creating it or simply appreciating and enjoying it, there are so many ways that art elevates life!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wrap Up: Richard Schmid "Alla Prima" Oil Painting Color Charts, Video Clip

If you have been following my blog this month, I started on July 1st  sharing my intention to complete the full color chart study as recommended in the Richard Schmid book, "Alla Prima".

It is something I have been thinking about doing for years, even started a half hearted approach a few years ago, taking short cuts- like not doing all the colors, or the values (and of course that just short changed my learning). So I decided to commit to "do the work" the way is it was designed to be done.

 It took about a week of painting time focusing on this (and you can do it in your own timeframe or spread it out over time it that works best  for you). I  have now completed the initial 12 charts plus a couple of others that I thought might be interesting or useful for the type of subjects I paint which are typically landscapes, florals and gardens (lots of greens).

 I learned a lot by doing the study and have shared each chart and my observations along the way as well as tips on how to get started doing the charts, materials etc... on blog posts throughout this month.  You can use any of this as a reference or  maybe even inspiration for yourself by checking the listings in my Archives for the month of July 2011. Everything related to this project is is concentrated in the posts during the month of July.

Beyond the value of the experience of doing the charts and learning along the way, I now have a wonderful  "color bible" that I made for myself and am now using as a reference for paintings in my studio.

 I have posted a short video clip on YouTube which shows how to make the charts, as sometimes seeing and hearing about it sinks in more than just reading about it.

 If you'd like to see that video go to  Pat Fiorello Oil Painting Color Charts.

Thanks for allowing me to share this project with you. I hope you are inspired to take on a project of your own. What could you focus on to challenge yourself or take your art to the next level?

 I was at a music event last night and saw a young man with this quote on his t-shirt and thought it was pretty fitting for artists too:

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

So go paint, paint, paint.. and have fun along the way!


  1. Pat, I'm just blown away by the amount of time devoted to not only preparing the color charts, but documenting and sharing everything. You are so thorough! I'm sure many people will benefit by your efforts. Thank you! Oh, and I love the quote. I will keep it in my studio.

  2. Hey, nice work. I started the study myself but only from what I've learned about how to make these charts via the web - I'm in middle of nowhere so getting the book isn't so easy.

    Its nice he uses the five square system. I mix the main colour on top mix white with just a hint of main colour on bottom - then I try to go half way in between the two for the central colour, and half way again for the other two colours - works out nice.

    The part i'm not to clear on is this - say your going to mix lemon yellow to all your other colours and run each to white - I read you mix, say, the yellow and a red and to "favour the yellow" - how exactly do you establish what is meant by "favour"? I am half thinking about running a five chart from yellow to red and picking the colour between middle and yellow for "favour yellow" and between middle and red for "favour red" when its time to do the read chart. Of course that means making a few more charts - does he say in the book how to favour a colour exactly or is it just some lose thing that's up to you to decide?

    Troy Large

    1. Troy, What I mean by favoring one color- say Lemon Yellow over Cobalt blue on the Lemon Yellow chart, is that the Lemon Yellow should be the predominant color in the mixture. I don't think there's an exact way to know. When I compare my Lemon Yellow chart for that mixture and my Cobalt Blue chart for that same mixture, the former is more of a yellow green( more yellow than blue) and the latter is more of a greenish blue( more blue than yellow). Hope that helps

  3. Thanks. In the meantime I went and did a different set of charts that five step between the colors themselves - for example there is one between lemon yellow and colbalt blue. First square is yellow, second 75% yellow, 25% blue, third is 50/50, etc., until the last square is pure blue. I did that with every color in the palette.

    With that done, building the Schmid chart (which I've read is a classic Flemish way of doing charts) - if I want to favour Lemon yellow in the yellow blue mix, I just pick the 75% lemon, 25% blue swab and mix to that.

    It was a little extra work but had the effect of getting me better at making a even grade prior to making the charts useful for the field.

    Thanks for the help all the same - I rather "see it" now lol.


  4. Dear Pat, i'm a mikey come lately. I've been borrowing ideas from bongart, kevin mcphearson, don finkeldei, Berberison,
    just when i think i improved, i ran across Mr Schmid. i love his work and then ran across the chart thing. I decided to try it and it openeded up the Box of hope i' been looking for.
    i was too limited and your explanation of the chart was fantabulos. I'm on my way. What i do after making a chart with the left over paint is paint a picture with it. I improved my painting immediately. I can now see if you change each palette with different additions of color ( color key) like you do a chart you will get a different effect. all you pics won't look alike. I've figured out Richards schmids palette by looking at his pictures and the chart. I've always wonders where the russians get those beautiful colors and the
    chart will show you. thanks you for putting this on the net as i can't afford Schmids books but you can learn so much from the net. and its free. thanks again. i've never been this excited about painting and i've been doing it wrong for a long time. God Bless you, mike