Hi, I'm Alai!
a contemporary oil painter. “Alai” in basque means “happy”, and that’s precisely what I want to convey with my paintings :)
I prepared a little bio in case you want to keep learning about myself. Just keep reading.
But if you wanna know more about my work, feel free to check the Frequent Asked Questions below!
When I was a child I enjoyed painting a lot. When grown ups worked and studied at home, I wanted to study with them. I was given some paints and papers to "study" with them so I could be happy... and I started to paint :) well... "paint"... you know, silly doodles.
But the fear of "painting won't pay your bills" made me go far from arts. I've always studied sciences, my other passion along with painting. However, life wasn't good when I was studying Physics at the University. My family got ill and I had to drop my studied to take care of them.
When things got better and I could finally focus on my development again, I didn't wanna keep things the same. Painting always clung me to life in bad moments and my SO encouraged me to pursue arts as something more than just a hobby (at that time, that hobby was making League of Legends fan skins ha!)
Post life-changing decision
When I was 22, I entered Fine Arts degree at University of Basque Country. During my time there I learnt a lot of things about arts, history of fine arts, colour theory, materials and techniques... but I had no clue what I wanted to do with all that. I started painting realism believing in the famous myth that "art, the more realistic, the better". But I realised that bored me and I wanted something more. I started to unlearn how to paint in photorealistic style to use more vibrant and visible colours in my works. But that was super hard at that time and felt like making steps backwards.
Since 2-3rd degree I started to sell commissioned portraits at local stores. The work was nice to keep up learning but the clients wanted the painting "as the photo". You know: no fun colours, no fun expressionist brushwork... but still, it was nice and kept me pushing.
In 2020, while I was finishing my final degree assignment, it wasn't making me feel fulfilled and proud about it and I decided to paint daily and small to figure out what I wanted to do. I started with simple things I had at home. In that time, Covid stroke for the first time, so the time at home served me well for this task. Fruits and home items don't complain about how they were portrayed so that was nice to add the colour and brushwork treatment changes that the people portraits didn't allow me to.
During that time I started to document my progress on social media... and I'm sure you know what comes after. I started making mini tutorials, that became video tutorials, Reels, IGTV... that made me create a YouTube channel... and now I'm creating courses for you all.
Now I have became a full time painter by accident. My original plan was to keep studying and making courses, Master's degrees, PhDs etc. Which is supposed to be the "right path". But thanks to social media and thanks to all my followers who support me, I'm able to keep learning by myself and experimenting, while I sell my work and commissions that help keep sharing this journey. I'm sure there will be time for the rest of the things, if needed. I'm using the opportunity to explore and this is great!
I keep learning, but I want to teach you all some things I see that stop some people from pursuing their dreams:
No matter what you studied, if you pursue it, you can be a painter.To be good, it doesn't need to be realistic or "as in the picture": there are thousands of styles you can try until you find something yours....and for that, I want to share with you all the tricks and techniques I've learnt.
I think that there's no "only one possible way" to do this. The important thing is to paint. No matter how you do it, do it. Experiment, test things. But always be kind to the community because art is not one-person-thing :)
Uhh silly me, I always end up with sappy motivational phrases! But I mean it :)
Frequent Asked Questions
What's the name of your style?
I wish I knew :) I guess we'll have a proper name a hundreds years later hehe. Meanwhile, let me describe some of the characteristics my works have.
I like to paint realistic stuff but in a colourful way, enhancing what I see. I love to leave my brushwork visible, without blending it too much. For that, I use oil paints. Sometimes, edges can be mixed, and others, you can paint wet on wet without mixing. In addition, oils can have vibrant colours, but also transparencies in which the base underpainting is seeing. This creates nice happy accidents that make the painting more interesting.
Can I study your work in my class assignment? Can I use your work for teaching purposes?
Yes. If you need any more info, feel free to send me a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can schedule a call, mails... your best :)
Which materials do you use?
I paint mostly with oil paints. But I also paint digitally sometimes.
I explain materials deeply in my Domestika Course.
For painting in oils I use: wood, paper or canvases as support, gesso and acrylic for priming, acrylic or acrylic markers for sketching, and finally oil paints for painting.
Although I tried other painting software in the past, I paint mostly in the iPad. Procreate is my preferred tool to edit and make mock ups. But all my traditional-digital paintings are made in an app called ArtRage.
Why do you paint on a pink/teal/yellow underpainting base?
Short answer: it helps me painting more saturate and it gives some fun to the painting. For more detailed, explained and long answer I made this video with a little demonstration.
How can I start painting daily or frequently?
To keep the motivation high, you need to see results frequent. For that, I suggest you paint small things in fast sessions. If you have 1 hour to paint, make a finished painting in that hour, maybe 2. If you have 3h a day to paint, you can make more ambitious paintings, but be sure to finish them in that period of time. Only with experience you'll be able to tell how many times you take to paint a thing. Start small with the things you have around. Make a list: ear, eye, pear, avocado, glasses, car, your pet... Don't think, just paint. Grab the list and start painting as you go. The more "meh" objects and unplanned painting sessions will be the best ones!
Watching you painted a finished piece today, will encourage you to paint another one tomorrow. And if you made some "bad" ones, don't worry, just drop it apart and start fresh tomorrow! Use cheap materials so you don't get attached to the paintings. Oil paper is great for beginners!
How long have you been painting?
I sketched like everyone else since I was a kid. But as I studied science, I have not painted much or seriously until 5-6 years ago. In 2015 I entered Fine Arts Degree at University. I started painting again back there but it wasn't until 2020 when I started painting daily small things as described above. I learnt more in that year by myself than in the previous years. And now, now I paint more than ever.
How can I grow my Instagram account?
I created a free guide to share with you all how I grew my account from scratch. Here you can check that guide. However, Instagram is an evolving social media platform. I suggest you take this as a base and experiment and research more so you can educate and update with it.