I recently discussed the book Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green by Michael Wilcox. Mr. Wilcox founded The School of Colour and is the author of several books focusing on color and painting. His technique helped me learn to mix colors using a limited number of base paints. The importance of this technique has many applications.
- Consistently of colors. Color consistency is essential, especially when working on a piece that requires layers of paint and is painted over an extended period.
- Second, purchasing a large variety of premixed colors is unnecessary, saving money. Why spend money on paint colors you can easily mix from scratch? I understand the convenience of ready-made paints, but why waste money?
- Third, the colors recommended by Mr. Wilcox are all light-fast. Light-fast paints ensure the longevity of your painting, not fade. As I noted in a previous email, some of Van Gogh's paintings are losing color due to poor quality, non-light-fast paints he used.
In 2014, Michael wrote the book, Glazing. Glazing is a technique first used (in paintings) during the Renaissance. The Renaissance was the period when artists began working with oil paints.
Glaze is mainly used with oil paints, but in recent years has also been manufactured for acrylic paints. The main ingredient in glaze is linseed oil, making it thin, oily, and transparent. A small amount of oil paint is blended with the glaze, then applied over a layer of dried oil paint.
Glaze retains its transparency, showing the paint layer below. Light travels through the glaze to the oil paint layer, reflecting back to the viewer's eye. The viewer's eye mixes the different colors in each layer (the oil paint layer and the layer of glaze). It is a form of optical mixing. The final result is rich, glowing paint colors.
Mr. Wilcox's book Glazing discusses the Renaissance technique, history, and information about working responsibly with oil paints.
This painting is a beautiful example of glazing.
In a nutshell, here is the Renaissance technique. The painting was created on a panel. First, a ground was applied; think of the modern-day equivalent of a primer. Next came the under-drawing. Artists drew under-drawings in various ways, including silverpoint, charcoal, or ink. Under-drawing is vital because it allows the artist to work through compositional and perspective issues before committing to paint.
Certain oil colors take up to six months to dry thoroughly. There was very little "painting on the fly" with oils at this time. When the under-drawing was completed, an underpainting was applied. During this stage, the artist blocks in primary values using neutral hues.
Color comes next, and the last stage is the glaze.
In 2014 I chose to use this technique. The result is the painting Hong Kong. I am the first to admit that it was challenging and required patience. Drying times on oil paints and glazes can be maddening! And yet, Hong Kong is one of my favorite paintings. I learned so much about Renaissance techniques and how to use glaze. It also deepens my respect for Renaissance painters.
The subject matter of Hong Kong is a section of the world's longest outdoor escalator, the Central–Mid-Level Escalator, and Walkway System. The escalators are essential due to the steep, hilly terrain of Hong Kong.
The painting is not for sale, but prints are available.
Hong Kong, 2014