Let’s Talk – Glazing

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Glazing isn’t some mysterious technique shrouded in myth or painstaking complexity.

It’s actually quite simple, and all it requires is patience and really thin paint. Glazing can be done with almost any medium.

Whether you’re an acrylic artist, watercolorist or oil painter, glazing is a great way to get that last oomph of color or final shading around an object to keep it a focal point.

Patience Really Is A Virtue

When you’re glazing, the layer must dry completely before adding an additional coating of paint. When you’re using watercolor or acrylic paint, the wait isn’t too taxing on your impatient, can’t-wait-to-get-it-done psyche. However, if you’re working with oils, proper drying can require days before you can continue with another application. That’s why many oil painters work on multiple canvases. There’s always something to do with one of them.

The number of glazes you use is purely a personal decision. Since you’re using very thin paint with a lot of medium, the look you want to achieve can take many layers. Don’t try to speed up your painting time by using a more concentrated mixture of paint and medium. You’ll lose the transparent glazing effect you’re working to achieve.

How Thin Should I Make My Glazing Mix?

The whole idea of glazing is to add translucent layers of color to enhance or tone done an area or object. Paints have different levels of opacity, so each pigment has different requirements.

You should use the most opaque colors early in your glazing process. Since they are not translucent by nature, it’s harder to use them in the final sequence of your glazing.

As you get to know the individual characteristics of your palette, you learn by experience how much medium to add to your paints. This is all just part of the drudgework of painting. There’s a lot of knowledge that an artist needs in order to master the craft, and basic paint chemistry is one of the less-romantic, but important skills a good artist needs to learn.

When And Where Do I Glaze A Painting?

Although it can be used at any time, glazing is generally one of the final steps in your painting process. As you’re nearing completion of your piece, stand back and take in the whole painting. Do things jump out at you that shouldn’t? Perhaps a focal point seems lost and requires more strength.

As you analyze your work, you’ll begin to see just what areas need attention. You can glaze just one object or area, or you can glaze the entire painting. Painting a glaze directly on an object is one method, while glazing around the object is another way to strengthen or subdue a particular area.

You may find that the entire painting needs a little something else. Glazing the entire painting is often done to create an over-all warmer or cooler atmosphere. To warm a painting, a soft wash of a golden or rosy hue will bring up the temperature, while a blue or purple color will chill the scene down.

That’s really all there is to glazing. You may very well already do it without even realizing it. There, now you can put a name to that thing you do when your painting doesn’t look just quite right!

There’s lots of neat techniques that an artist has in his or her arsenal that can take an average painting and move it up a notch or two. A natural artist may well stumble upon these tricks when working with trial and error, but learning techniques as you go gives you more readily available responses to situations you may come across as you pursue your artistic quest.

Practice new techniques until they’re second nature, and file them away in your mental armory. That way, they’re ready to whip out when you need them.

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