What is Glazing – Why Use it?
Glazing can really add some zing to your paintings. It is amazing the difference it can make. Glazing consists of thin, transparent layers of colour laid over the top of one another so you end up seeing glassy depth to the surface.
When you add glazing layers to your painting, the layers of colour are so rich and lush, you can see through the paint to the layers below and it looks delicious. It is difficult to see layers of glazing in an image of a painting that is printed or on the web. The best way to see it is live in person, looking at the painting.
A painting without glazing layers can look flat and lifeless.
Glazing is fantastic for shadows, reflections, water surfaces, underwater, and all sorts of places where you want depth of colour, and lovely variation.
This is a great tutorial to read in addition to our post about Two Great Acrylic Mediums, giving you even more information on the subject. This is especially handy if you are looking to attend our Learn to Paint in Acrylics classes.
You need to select your glazing medium (water will not work, as it will not spread properly and will not be waterproof after drying). Get to know the brand you are using. Some of my favourites are the Atelier Interactive ones. I use the Atelier ‘Gloss Varnish’ (what I call GV) and their ‘Clear Painting Medium’ (CPM).
First you need to know the difference between GV & CPM . The first one is fast, the other one is slow. I actually write “FAST” and “SLOW” on the top of each bottle with a black marker pen, to remind me that one is really fast drying, and the other is really slow drying. They are two extremes. GV is thin and runny like water, whereas CPM is think and syrupy like cream. Both of them are white liquid when wet, but will dry perfectly clear.
I use GV for all glazing layers, and I make sure that I wash the brush out straight away! It dries very fast in the bristles of the brush. I use CPM for painting with thick opaque paints, so that I can blend them and work with them and they stay open longer. I would much rather use the GV for glazing because you can whack it with a hot hair dryer and get straight onto glazing the next coat. For me, CPM takes way too long to dry with a hairdryer between coats when for using for glazing. I am far too impatient to wait for sometimes hours between coats before I can keep on painting! However, if you get annoyed at the drips that happen with fast and runny GV, and you don’t mind spending time patiently waiting between coats of your painting, then the more syrupy CPM is excellent to use.
Transparent Colours are Best
The next thing you need to know is which paints are transparent and which ones are opaque. In all professional acrylic paint ranges you will be able to find out if each paint colour is transparent, opaque or semi-transparent by either looking at the special symbol on the tube, or by looking at the colour chart for the range of colours. In the Atelier Interactive Acrylics range, there is a small circle symbol on the tube. An empty circle means transparent, a filled in sold circle means opaque, and a half circle means semi-transparent.
The transparent ones are the best for glazing. Why not read more about Two Great Acrylic Mediums in our latest post.
How to glaze
- Take a plastic dinner plate, or an easy to clean ceramic or enamelled tin plate. Pour a big slop of GV into the plate (more that you think you will need). It should be several tablespoons, unless you are doing a tiny painting. Then pick up your paint tube, and put the tiniest spot of paint into it (maybe a tiny daub the size of your littlest fingernail). Mix it all in with a brush. Get the strength of the paint colour mix so it is fairly pale and watery, not a strong mix. Remember you need to be able to see through the layer that you apply, to the painting underneath and see it clearly.
- Now, with a large hog bristle brush, paint the pale wash all over the place in your painting. It is fun to leave some areas untouched, rather than covering the whole painting.
- Wash your brush thoroughly right away, before it dries in the bristles. Wash your plate as well. I like to use up all the glaze and then wash the plate in my nice big bucket of water alongside my easel. Wash up before using the hairdryer – you will not believe how fast this medium dries in your equipment.
- Dry the layer thoroughly with a hairdryer (safety first! keep the hairdryer a long way away from any buckets of water!!!)
- Once it is tinder dry, you can mix up another lot using a different colour and paint all over the place again, big swooping brushstrokes. Have fun!
The paler your make your glaze the more opportunity you have for adding more layers… if you make the mix too dark and opaque it is impossible to take it back off again.
Tips to Remember with Glazing
The mixture should be a really watery mix like a soft watercolour wash might be. Do not mix up strong mixes of colour for glazing!
Wash your brush quickly after glazing when you use very fast drying mediums
You can use a hairdryer on its hottest setting to dry off Atelier Interactive mediums.
The other thing to remember is that each layer of glazing makes the areas darker and darker. If you have made areas of your painting too dark you may have to go back in and punch out its lights 🙂 … Take some thick opaque titanium white and pick out the lightest highlights in the painting. Dry this thoroughly, and then you could have some fun doing some light glazes over the white areas to give them shimmery colours!
If you would like to know more, feel free to check out our blog on Two Great Acrylic Mediums to know some more specifics about these wonderful products.
I’d love to see your shimmer and shine! Connect with us and show us your creations!