Glazing In Watercolor
Glazing is simply the stacking of individual colors or layers of the same color, allowing the paint to dry between layers (or glazes).
You might use Glazing to:
- gradually build up darker values of a single color
- create a new, unique color by glazing one hue over another
- make a slight but critical change to a colored area by adding a glaze
- warm or cool, play up or tone down areas of a painting
Why not just premix the color you want, or apply the dark value you desire from the get-go?
Because your glazing patience will be richly rewarded. You simply cannot achieve the same luminous color with premixing that you can with glazing. With glazing, the previous layer of color shows through the colors applied on top of it and remains a part of its true color. And, when you glaze to build darker values, the result is depth-filled, dimensional color instead of the harsh, flat, lifeless look you'd get if you just applied dark color from
I do not paint entire paintings using glazing because it is very time-consuming. I use it where I want previously applied colors to show through the later layers. Where I need a glow to occur, instead of painting around a yellow underlayer, I glaze other colors over the yellow and then lift back to that hue. The result is depth that creates a much more realistic look.
Glazing Tip 1
Glazing Tip 2
- Let your paper dry completely between glazes, laid flat. Use the back of your hand to check it. If the paper feels even slightly cool, it is not dry.
- Always begin with light washes of color and glaze lightly. This allows you to build up color gradually and to alter the color as you go. If you use too heavy a glaze you will cover up the colors below it, defeating the purpose of this technique. Remember, you can always go darker, but if you scrub an area to make it lighter again, it will never glow like the pure white of undisturbed paper.
- Stick with transparent and semitransparent colors. This allows you to glaze back and forth between colors without too much risk of getting mud.
- Try out layering combinations on scrap watercolor paper. Play with your paints all the time to see which glazing combinations work well and which don't. Test combinations you're considering before applying them in a painting to be sure you like them.
- Keep track of layering combinations you like. Write down the colors used underneath a sample swatch and store these swatches in a three-ring binder for easy reference.
Glaze Tip Large
The effects of glazing one color over another can range from slight
adjustments to the original hue to the creation of an entirely new color.
An excerpt from the book, A Celebration of Light by Jane Freeman
(c) 2007 North Light Books, an imprint of F&W Publications, Inc.