I have a confession to make: I’ve never glazed an oil painting. The process intimidates me a bit—creating luminosity and an inner glow on canvas is no easy feat—and I often lose steam after about the second layer. It takes so much time, and having to be so conscious of getting the layers thin sometimes trips me up. However, I’ve asked around and done some research in painting blogs on this oil painting technique and I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in my experience. Many painters don’t glaze properly or consistently, and some use it just as a way to mask drawing mistakes.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the slick, glossy surface that such artists as Tintoretto and Titian are known for. And when I’ve worked with glazes, there is something almost meditative about going over and over the surface with a brush, smoothing out every stroke so that it gleams. Then, of course, there are the colors. Maxfield Parrish is one of my favorite artists, mostly because his colors are so vibrant. He was an expert at glazing and produced surfaces that had the appearance of stained glass. Tube colors with intense chroma still can’t compare to the built-up jewel tones that come through when glazing.
I think it’s the waiting that stymies me the most. Waiting until each previous layer is absolutely dry means I’m painting less. This can be really frustrating when all I want to do is paint. But, whether it’s easy or not, the effects of glazing are breathtaking. I love the tinted glow it enables painters to achieve. Sometimes my time or inclination doesn’t allow for it, but there is something exciting about immersing myself in a technique just to see how it works and see what I can learn from the process. I’m open to it, and I think that’s enough for now.
If you are interested in the many different oil painting techniques out there, and want to explore them for the sake of moving forward in your art, Oil Painting with the Masters is definitely the place to start. From underpainting to working in layers, to the textural techniques that make them all come alive, Oil Painting with the Masters is an in-depth resource of both practical and artistic approaches to the materials and methods that spark our creativity. Enjoy!