Create Dimension with Transparent Glazing

by Neadeen Masters on November 11, 2011

What is a Glaze?  ‘Glazing’ is the technique that allows us to apply a thin transparent layer of colour over another dry layer.  Acrylic or oil paint glazes are often used to create more depth or dimension within areas of a painting. This old painting technique was used by the Old Masters. It  is often used to create realistic objects that show great detail. Basically, glazing will darken an area depending on how many times you layer with that color and how dark the pigment is.

Glazing – Usually Deepens Colors

When we apply a glaze to an area of a painting or an object, the glaze will make the area appear darker. It will change the value. When adjusting the form of your object, a good point to remember is the more you glaze, the more you change the lightness or darkness of that particular area. Glazing should not be used to create a dramatic change too quickly or be used to repair something that is incorrectly painted. It is best used as thin transparent layers to build the effect slowly.  Glazing is often used when painting flowers or floral designs. For example…Observe the painting of the roses below. Deeper transparent shadows between the rose petals were created with thin transparent glazes of color. The same application was used to develop the shadows between the leaf veins. Darker rose colored accents are  applied to the edges of the leaves  to carry color for balance and harmony. Note that in each case, the value is darker.

Painting Roses - art apprentice online - sue pruett

Pretty Pink Roses by Sue Pruett

 If you paint with acrylics, you might be  familiar with the terms ‘float’ or ‘side load’.  This painting technique is in actuality a ‘glazing’ technique used to build depth. There are many reasons why the artist will use this technique. One can use glazes to assist in creating the actual mass or form of an object. Glazing can also be used to  add shadows as demonstrated in the image above. They can also help the artist adjust the tone, colour, and temperature.

 The glazing process should always be thought of as cosmetic enhancement, not cosmetic surgery! To learn more about acrylic glazing techniques or to participate in acrylic painting lessons, join us in any of our online painting classes or download one of our e-painting patterns.

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