Let's Talk About Painting Techniques
In this post, we’re talking about techniques.
Years ago I made a video claiming that I didn’t use any technique in my painting. Now I’d like to revise that. I think I really was using a technique or several and just didn’t, and still don’t, know what they were. I don’t think it’s possible to draw or paint without using any technique.
I had the idea back then that artists who used techniques used one technique and that you had to pick a technique and stick with it or you couldn’t use technique at all. Now I know that artists can use as many techniques as they want. They can even combine techniques in the same painting. Sure there are artists who only ever use one technique, but that’s not a rule.
I’m going to share with you the three techniques that I’m familiar with, regardless of whether or not I’ve actually used them.
Glazing is the technique I’ve been experimenting with the most. To glaze you take paint colors that are already transparent, mix them with water or medium so they’re even more transparent, and apply them in multiple light layers. Glazing is commonly associated with realism because it allows artists to create very believable textures due to how light shows through the layers. Glazing as a painting technique has a long history. The Old Masters glazed. The texture of the woman’s skin in this painting
and the woman’s tunic in this painting,
was achieved through glazing.
Wet Into Wet
Wet into wet is done by putting color down on top of or next to another color without waiting for the first color to dry so that the colors blend together. You could think of it as mixing color right onto your canvas. The only time I personally use the wet into wet technique is when I think something is too dark or too light and I’m too lazy to remix a color, so I just layer some black or white onto my color that’s on the canvas while it’s still wet. Wet into wet is not easy to do in acrylics because they dry so fast, but you can do it if you have an airbrush that you can use to periodically mist your paint with water to keep it wet as you work. This video, from Lachri Fine Art, provides a demonstration of wet into wet blending.
This is the one technique of the three that I have no personal experience with, but I find it very interesting. Impasto is applying paint very thickly to the canvas using bold strokes, sometimes with a palette knife. Impasto is commonly associated with impressionism, which is a style that revolves around lights and darks rather than fine detail. Van Gogh did an extreme version of impasto. A more recent artist associated with impasto was Lucian Freud. Unlike in glazing, the brush strokes in impasto are visible. Impasto is Italian for dough or mixture.
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Painter of portraits and wildlife