Water­colour Over­glazes

John Lovett shares his in­sights on this im­pact­ful paint­ing tech­nique

International Artist - - Contents - John Lovett

John Lovett shares his in­sights on this im­pact­ful paint­ing tech­nique

Over­glaz­ing is a use­ful tech­nique to “tighten up” and sim­plify a paint­ing. Over­glazes can be ap­plied at any time dur­ing the paint­ing process or as a fi­nal ad­just­ment to in­crease color har­mony and unity. Gen­er­ally the process re­quires mix­ing a large pud­dle of clean, trans­par­ent pig­ment and ap­ply­ing it quickly and thor­oughly (leav­ing no gaps) to a selected por­tion of the dry paint­ing. As soon as the glaze has been ap­plied, a clean, damp brush is used to soften and grade out any vis­i­ble edges of the glaze. Over­glazes can be a sim­ple, sin­gle ap­pli­ca­tion or an over­lap­ping series of lay­ered glazes.

Tips for Ap­ply­ing Over­glazes

» Make sure your paint­ing is thor­oughly dry be­fore ap­ply­ing the glaze. Wa­ter­color sets as

it dries out—if the over­glaze goes on too early, it will dis­turb the paint­ing un­der­neath. » Don’t be too vig­or­ous with your ap­pli­ca­tion of the over­glaze. Mix plenty of paint then ap­ply it with a min­i­mum of soft gen­tle strokes. Once the re­quired area is com­pletely and evenly cov­ered, quickly wash out your brush in clean wa­ter, dry it slightly then run it along the edge of the glaze to soften it.

» A soft hake brush can be used to soften and even out the glaze if nec­es­sary.

» The best brush is the one you gen­er­ally use for washes. Mops are good, large flat

Tak­lons work well, as do long haired soft bris­tle brushes. A mix­ture of phthalo blue, phthalo green and a small amount of per­ma­nent rose was ap­plied in a wide band down the left side of this paint­ing. The glaze was car­ried across the fore­ground land mass and, in a thin band, up the right­hand side. This over­glaze tight­ened the color har­mony and con­cen­trated at­ten­tion on the fo­cal area of the river. In this paint­ing an over­glaze of cool grey was ap­plied to both sides of the paint­ing. These bands of over­glaze com­press the con­trast at ei­ther side of the paint­ing, giv­ing more im­pact to the fo­cal area.

This paint­ing had an over glaze of phthalo green ap­plied to the bot­tom and both sides, leav­ing con­trast in the fo­cal area. A fi­nal over glaze of phthalo blue was ap­plied to the top right-hand cor­ner to add va­ri­ety.

An over­glaze of blue/vi­o­let (mixed from phthalo blue and per­ma­nent rose) was painted across the wa­ter and half way up ei­ther side of this paint­ing. This not only helps tie the build­ings to the wa­ter, but also al­lows the fo­cal area of the build­ings to dom­i­nate.

Af­ter ev­ery­thing was thor­oughly dry, an over­glaze of per­ma­nent rose was ap­plied to the top re­gion of sky and down ei­ther side. Again, this over­glaze was al­lowed to dry thor­oughly be­fore a gesso over­glaze was ap­plied to the sky and left-hand cor­ner.

This lay­er­ing of glazes builds up the soft, dreamy at­mos­phere of early morn­ing Venice.

In this ex­am­ple, a phthalo green/phthalo blue mix­ture was used to over glaze the fore­ground wa­ter and part of the build­ings at ei­ther side, ty­ing the wa­ter to the rest of the paint­ing.

An over­glaze of gesso was ap­plied to the area at the top of the paint­ing where the vi­o­let would even­tu­ally go. This over­glaze served to re­duce de­tail and put light into that area.

Af­ter ev­ery­thing had dried out thor­oughly, an over glaze of vi­o­let mixed from per­ma­nent rose and cobalt blue was placed over the gesso.

The fi­nal over glaze was an opaque white gouache into the pale area of the sky. The fi­nal job was to re­in­state some of the de­tail lost to the gesso. This was done sim­ply with a char­coal pen­cil.

As seen in the work above, a sim­ple, pale phthalo green over­glaze was painted over the wa­ter, part of the hull and re­gions of the back­ground. The over­glaze tight­ened color har­mony and re­duced con­trast in all but the fo­cal area of the paint­ing.

The over­glaz­ing process is sim­ply a mat­ter of ap­ply­ing an even, trans­par­ent glaze to a selected re­gion of the paint­ing and soft­en­ing any vis­i­ble edges. Start­ing with a large pud­dle of pure, clean pig­ment is half the bat­tle.

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