Tips for Painting Glazes

A glaze is simply a fine see-through layer of paint, whereas glazing is where thin, transparent layers of paint are applied on top of the other to build up color.

As you apply each glaze on top, the ones beneath get modified or tinted. So, why is it that glazing is something that artists find troubling, and even very threatening?

Granted, the theory may seem simple but the practical bit of it takes patience and perseverance to master.

One thing’s for sure; glazing is not for those seeking instant gratification. However, if you’re an artist who wants to take his painting skills up a notch, glazing is the art form that will give you richly luminous colors and depth you could hardly obtain by merely mixing colors on a palette.

Why is this? Basically because light travels through all the transparent glazes, onto the canvas and bounces off to reflect back at you. The layers of color will be a splendid mixture in your eyes, resulting in a luminous sight you won’t see when colors are physically mixed. Here are some of the glazing tips.

Learn about your transparent colors

Take some time to learn about the different pigments that are transparent, translucent, or opaque. Certain manufacturers indicate this on the label on their paint tubes.

If you want to build up rich, subtle colors through tiers of glazes, you should use transparent colors, however, this shouldn’t discourage you from experimenting with opaque colors. If you’re new to glazing, you’re better off sticking with transparent colors for your glazes in the beginning and keep opaque colors for the later layers.

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Exercise a lot of patience

When a glaze is applied onto paint that has not properly dried, the colors will mix, which is exactly what you want to avoid. You’d rather be patient than sorry. If you’re using an acrylics medium, you can use a hair dryer to speed up the drying process.

The speed at which an oil glaze will dry up depends on the climate of the area you’re working in, plus the conditions of your studio; experiment on some sample glazes. The paint should not be sticky. It should feel dry to the touch. Work on multiple paints at the same time so that you can start on another painting as you wait for the completed one to dry.

Use smooth surfaces

A glaze is a very slim layer that is supposed to smoothly lie over the layers beneath. You will want it to avoid collecting on any roughness that may be on your support surface when you’ve just ventured into glazing (once you’ve got the basics of glazing, you may want to experiment with it). When you’re just starting out, a smooth hardboard panel is recommended.

Use a light ground

A light-colored or white ground is ideal as it reflects light, rather than absorb it in the case of a dark one. If you’re not sure, do an experiment by painting the exact same glazes on a white and a black ground. 

Glazing mediums

These ones help to thin out the paint you’re using to the correct constituency for glazing. Additionally, if the formula you use is fast-drying, it can speed up the rate at which the paint dries. Also, if the paint is over-diluted, glazing mediums can solve any adhesive problems, especially with acrylics.

Finally, remember to use a soft brush with rounded edges for your glazes so that there are no visible brush marks left.

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