Thursday, December 29, 2011

#47 Grace - One Hundred Alla Prima Portraits of American Teenagers

(What are some of the things that are important to you) "The things I believe in are what are important to me, they are the only things that I have that are truly mine.  The people I surround myself with are also very important to me; an emotional connection with someone is one of the most important things in the world."

Grace wrote an article about my project for the Sept-Oct issue of the Auduban High School paper, The Parrot. After she posed, she came in and interviewed us (the Monday night group). I think she did a wonderful job, and I am including her article below.

South Jersey Artist Portrays 100 South Jersey Teenagers 
by Grace Fair
Parrot Staff Writer
 The smell of oil paint, the quiet sound of music playing in the background, and five easels standing tall around the room—these are the smells, sounds and sights of five painters hard at work.  Skilled painter Natalie Italiano has dubbed her project 100 Alla Prima Portraits of American Teenagers.  The term “alla prima” refers to a method of painting in which the artwork is completed in one session. In alla prima style, pieces usually have thick layers of paint and play on light and expression, much like impressionistic paintings. With eight other painters at her side, as well as support from local art teacher Jim Repenning, Italiano elected to take on such an extensive venture for several reasons.  “I saw an exhibit that someone else had done of a   similar project where she came in and she just decided to paint every-one in her town. She lives in Iowa and rented a storefront and anyone who was willing to pose she
painted them and did it for a year. “I  saw the exhibit of it and I was just blown away. I thought they were so cool and interesting for portraits to be, rather than something really formal of wealthy people, everybody that was represented.”  Having chosen teenagers for her subjects as well as using the spirited alla prima type painting, Italiano also hoped that her project would help her to process the fact that her youngest child had gone away to college. “One of the things I also wanted to do was just learn how to paint alla prima; I felt like most of what I did had been very academic. It’s kind of like being a classical musician and wanting to play jazz. Playing jazz is more than just going into your garage and playing it. I guess I wanted to get a little freer and more expressive. I also wanted to set a goal, and create this sort of historical document,” said Italiano. While trying to hone her own skills, Italiano is also sketching the cultural identity of today’s youth. “I wanted to be able to say something about our time. So when you’re looking back you not only get an idea of how everyone dressed, but you also saw it
through the expressive eye. Really you see through nine eyes because everybody who’s painting sees things their own way.” More information can be found online at Italiano’s blog,  Also, for information on Repenning Fine Arts, visit,
or email Mr. Repenning at:  

A portrait of AHS student Ginny Froonjian by Italiano.