Painting with glazes

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Painting with glazes
A glaze is simply a thin, transparent layer of paint and glazing is simply building up colour by applying thin, transparent layers one of top of another dry layer. Each glaze modifies those beneath it. Although the theory is easy, putting it into practice takes patience and persistence to master. If you’re a painter who needs instant satisfaction, glazing is probably not for you. But if you’re a painter wanting to take your paintings up a bit, glazing will give you colours with a luminosity, richness, and depth you cannot get by mixing colours on a palette. Why is this? In very basic terms, it’s because light travels through all the transparent layers (glazes), bounces off the canvas, and reflects back at you.
Take the time to learn which pigments are transparent, semi-transparent, or opaque. Transparent colours work best for building up rich, subtle colours through layers of glazes, but this is not to say you shouldn’t experiment with opaque colours. But if you’re just starting, stick to transparent colours for your glazes initially and keep opaque colours for the initial layers. Your eyes mix the layers of colour to ‘see’ the final colour, giving luminosity you don’t get when you mix colours physically.
If you apply a glaze onto still wet paint, the layers of paint will mix together, which is just what you don’t want to happen. Be patient rather than sorry. How soon an oil glaze will be dry depends on the climate you live in and your studio condition; do some sample glazes to find out. The paint must be dry to the touch, not sticky. It is very professional to work on several paintings so you may paint with glazes easier.
A glaze is a thin layer of paint which should lie smoothly on top of the previous layers. You don’t want to create a collection of paint on top of any rough paint. A smooth canvas is ideal for glazes. Use a light-coloured or white ground, which helps reflect light, rather than a dark one, which helps absorb light.
Glazing mediums thin the paint you’re using to the right constituency for glazing and, if you buy a fast-drying formula, it speeds up the rate at which the paint dries. Experiment with the ratio of medium to paint to get a feel for how much to add; too much and you sometimes get an excessively glossy effect.
Glazes want to be painted smoothly, without visible brush marks. Use a soft brush with rounded edges, such as a filbert brush. If there is excessive paint you may use a dry fan brush to remove the visible brush marks. When the painting is finished, apply one final glaze over the whole painting. This helps unify all the parts of the painting. An alternative way is to apply a final unifying glaze to the whole painting or just some elements in the focal point.