Art Terms and Painting Tips – Layering and Glazing

by Neadeen Masters on November 9, 2013

Glazing and Layering – Painting Techniques

As teachers, we often hear students confuse the art terms they use. It can be a problem if they misunderstand the painting technique the instructor is trying to explain to them. Sometimes it’s good to investigate the real meaning of common ‘artsy’ words we teachers throw around just to confuse you…right? LOL! No…seriously…it can make a huge difference to your painting…especially if you are a beginning artist just starting out. For example, glazing is a word that is often misunderstood. I asked art teacher Susan Abdella to jot down a few common mistakes she has heard….here’s one…

glazing and layering - Transparent Color - Art Apprentice Online

Painting Tip from artist and art teacher Susan Abdella

Painting Question: Are you confused with the terms ‘layering’ and ‘glazing’, are they the same thing?

Answer: The terms ‘layering’ and ‘glazing’ are almost synonymous with one another but there is a difference between the two.

  • Both are applied over a dried surface
  • Both painting techniques use a sparse amount of paint and can be mixed with a medium or water prior to applying to the surface.
  • Both are dried and often repeated.

Glazing – Acrylic Painting Techniques

A ‘glaze’ however refers to the application of a transparent color applied over a dried area to adjust the hue, intensity, or value and color temperature. In watercolor painting, artists layer thin transparent glazes and washes until they achieve the depth or saturation of color they desire.  Acrylic and oil painters will also use or layer transparent ‘glazes’.  It is very important to understand that layering is simply placing one layer of color over another, while ‘glazing’ is ALWAYS a transparent application. Antiquing, where for example, an umber finish is applied to create an old world patina is often correctly referred to as glazing.

Layering – Acrylic Painting Techniques

Layering is also a gradual build up of light and /or dark values and requires several applications before the desired result is achieved. Usually the first application of color will cover the largest area; each subsequent application of color should be smaller staying within the perimeter of the first color.  Think of a pyramid, each application is smaller than the previous.

Art Apprentice Online – Your online resource for the beginning artist who is serious about learning to paint!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Nancy Brown November 10, 2013 at 3:35 am

Is the painting that is featured above part of an instructional video?

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