Thursday, December 17, 2015

Glazing in Oil

Glazing with oil paint has an incredible mystique to it.  It dates back to the earliest oil painting practices and as a technique, it is probably derived from egg tempera painting, which applied colour in thin transparent layers. 

I have been looking for a good introduction to glazing in oil to recommend to the students taking my classes.  I haven't been able to find one that explains the process, so I decided to make a video about it myself.

This is a simple glazing exercise that used three layers of paint. I have chosen to do the underpainting using the traditional grey tone.
  1. Underpainting in grey
  2. Colour glaze in red.
  3. Colour glaze in blue.
Here is a recap of the video:

Grey ground with drawing in oil

The canvas is tone with a middle grey to allow me to add lights and darks.  They easily blend into the ground to create a smooth gradations of colour.

Under-painting with Payne's Grey & Titanium White

 The first glazed is done with a napthol red.  The grey underpainting neutralises the red. The glaze is mixed with a small amount of Gamblin Gel Medium.  The glaze is scumbled onto the surface and blended with a dry brush.  This technique creates a thin transparent film of paint and maintains the integrity of the paint.

Colour Glaze with Napthol red & Zinc White

The second glaze is done with a Pthalo blue green shade, the complement of the Napthol red.  The blue is glazed over the dry layer of red using different tones of blue and zinc white.
Partial Glaze with Phthalo Blue and Zinc White

The amazing thing about glazing is the subtle gradations that can be created almost effortlessly. When painting wet on wet, the Pthalo blue and Napthol red could create dull greys and browns, but when the blue is glazed over the dry red glaze, it can be blended into the pink and still maintain the luminosity of the colours.  I love the effect, but I admit I don't like the waiting time in between layers of colour.  A fast drying alkyd medium certainly helps.

Here is the video.