Glazing is a process that artists use for many reasons. It can be used to unite, neutralize, and intensify. It is a technique successfully employed in acrylic, oil, and watercolor painting. Glazing occurs when a transparent wash is put over an already painted area. In watercolor the paint below ought to be dry, even then if you “lick the paint”, meaning go over it repeatedly, you will find the under painting mixing in with the glaze. The most successful glazes are put down and left alone to dry- you can glaze again and again, if the paint is bone dry, and be successful.
If you glaze with the same hue you can get the most vibrant glowing colors. You can see in this painting on the right, I have started with an orangish background and each time I glazed, painted a thin wash of the red over the sky, I left a little bit peeking out around the sun from the last glaze. This allows you to really see the steps. BTW- I happen to LOVE this painting!
If you glaze over an area that might be a little busy or confused, you can unite it, as I have done here in the sky on this painting of Rosa Rugosa. The work from below still shows through, but the glazing will unify the piece. Be sure to use a thin, thin, wash.( I was a little heavy handed here.) You can always go back over it when it is dry, but if you use paint that is too thick or saturated it cannot be undone. I often will paint the under color on a scrap piece of paper and dry it and then test the glaze first, before applying it to my painting.
If you have painted an area that is just TOO much- maybe you used too bold a color, or it is competing with your focal point and you want to tone it down – you can use a glaze to tone the color down and keep the vibrancy. If you do this while the page is wet, you risk dulling colors. The more brush strokes on the page, especially when the page is wet, the more the fibers unravel. This seemingly unnoticeable, fuzzy surface texture pushes the paint deeper into the page and the result is duller colors. Below I laid down the large swatch of yellow and the two smaller purple and orange squares and I let them dry totally. Then I glazed the same color purple and orange over the yellow. You can see how the purple tones the yellow down and how the orange is a more intense hue. You can also see how I “licked the paint” with the purple and dragged some of the yellow up into the purple. This also tell us that this yellow is not a very staining color.
You might be thinking…Why not just get the color right the first time? Getting it “right” the first time does not always happen. Using this process can make for more intense vibrant colors, as in the bear painting above, than if you were to just use one layer of the “correct” color. According to Vibrant- Art.com, glazing will give you colors with a luminosity, richness, and depth you cannot get by mixing colors. This is because light travels through all the transparent layers (glazes), and bounces off the page, and reflects to the viewer differently than mixed paint on the page. Our eyes mix the layers of color to ‘see’ the final color, giving a luminosity you do not get with a layer of physically mixed paint color. Pretty cool stuff- Huh?