Thought I'd do a quick post about my glazing methods lately. It's become a really important and enjoyable step of the painting process for me, and I discovered a medium pretty recently that has drastically changed the way I approach it. Being more confident with my glazing has also loosened up the way I do the first pass of a painting -- and takes a little bit of the pressure off, as I know I can go in once things are dry and have a good shot of bringing things to where I'd like them to be.
Below are some shots of a small portrait study I did this week -- I tried my best to capture a few different stages of the glazing process. the piece is pretty tiny at 9" x 12", and fairly loose, but hopefully the progression is apparent (and possibly interesting and/or helpful).
1) This is what I started with. A few days after all the paint went down, things are looking pretty dull, and there is a lot of inconsistency in the sheen; matte areas, semi-glossy areas, etc. It took me years (literally), to learn that there was a thing called "oiling out" in oil painting -- which essentially is just applying a medium to a dry painting in order to re-saturate colors and bring everything to the same level. It's kind of a no-brainer, but one of those no-brainers that is really easy to miss. The concept of adding a medium (aside from varnish) to a dry painting to accomplish this didn't occur to me for years. [I did eventually figure it out on my own, only shortly before I discovered somebody had gone ahead and named it, and that it's most definitely a thing...but it took... a while.]
The medium I alluded to above and that I now use for both oiling out and glazing is called Oleogel. I saw an article David Gluck wrote in his Painting Stuff to Look Like Stuff blog (which is FANTASTIC by the way) where he mentioned he'd been using it so I decided to give it a shot. [I'd previously been using Liquin, which I still like -- but it doesn't work nearly as well for me with light colors...and i'm convinced that stuff is made of cancer]
2) So this is what the painting looks like with a thin layer of Oleogel (covering the whole thing) -- I just brush it on lightly with a clean brush. This is essentially oiling-out, and let's me see where everything actually is value-wise. This painting also cracked quite a bit in some areas -- probably because I didn't use enough paint, [the temperature in my studio is either freezing or way too toasty as well, which doesn't help] so the oiling-out really brings those out as well. I will try to cover those up as I go. If I wasn't planning to glaze, the painting would be done at this point -- i'd wait for the oil-out to dry (the "oiling out" effect will diminish a bit as it does), then hit the whole thing with a temp-varnish.
The main difference between Oleogel and old-favorite Liquin, is the consistency. Oleogel is a soft jelly, so it doesn't drip and is fairly slow-drying -- Liquin is...a goop, which can travel if you're not careful and dries a lot quicker. Liquin also dries glossy, which I was never a fan of..and like I said before, the stuff is super gnarly. Coating a painting with it would be pretty unbearable. [I've also read that it can potentially seal painted layers off from air entirely, which could lead to unstable paint -- but who knows... I got cracking paint here already so it wouldn't much matter in this case -- zing!]
3) I then add thin layers of paint directly onto the still very wet Oleogel. Unlike glazing with Liquin (where I mix pigment w/ the medium on the palette) I don't thin out the paint at all before it hits the surface. The Oleogel makes it pretty hard to over-apply paint, but is very forgiving -- so wiping away all or some of the paint I add is easy. For some reason, the difference between mixing a glaze (medium + paint) on the palette and this method of finding my colors without medium and adding it directly to the painting (where the medium is already waiting) is huge for me. I love it.
This shot is already pretty far into the glazing, all the darks (which I do first), and a few of the lighter values. I usually won't mess with the background on these studies, but because of the cracking and because it was a little too dark, I added some lighter values. For larger paintings, I'll often let darks dry before I start on the lighter stuff, just to make sure I don't get some unintentional muddiness in the glaze -- but generally the lighter lights and darker darks aren't right next to each other, so it's not hard to keep them separate.
4) Here is everything all glazed up. I added a bunch more lights here, making sure not to use too much white. [Adding light values to a dry painting has always been a challenge for me -- it's easy to go too light, which makes things kind of smokey looking and can make your subject look like they're wearing zombie make-up. White is a cool color, so for the most part, you'll never need straight up white on a figure painting -- even the eye reflections: never straight white.]
Glazing goes pretty fast and is really fun -- I have to actively try not to overdo it. It's super easy for me to zone out on whatever WWII audiobook i'm listening to and glaze a painting into oblivion; i'll loose all the brush strokes (which are rare enough) and end up with something doll-like, with very high-contrast, and ...not good.
That is the basics -- no idea how I managed to write so much. I hope that helps anybody looking for new things to try, and if you know what you're doing and have some tips for me, please send them my way!
also, while I'm being wordy -- I always feel the need to mention that I am not trained in the classical sense, this is just how I do things...lately. they will surely change, and there are likely better ways to do all of this, but I learned a ton from reading about how other artists work, so I will be forever trying to return the favor. thank you for reading!
PS. I'm considering re-naming this blog, "Ellipsis Abuse with Aaron Nagel"