Oil Painting Glazes: An Artist Reveals His Secrets

Oil painter Gerald Dextraze explains his success with painting glazes

oil paints and brushes
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Glazing is the most forgiving technique in painting – and one of the least understood because books on it are written in unnecessarily complicated language. But glazing really is so simple and can be reduced down to two secrets.

The Two Secrets to Oil Painting Glazing

The first secret to glazing is to use extremely thin paint. The second secret to glazing is patience, don't go too fast. (How simple is that?!)

Build your colors and tones slowly. Leave the painting to dry between each coat or layer of paint (glaze). This way, if you make an error you can correct it easily by wiping the new paint off. Or, if you put down a color and find it’s too strong, wipe off any surplus. If you want to even out your colors, the best thing to use is a mop brush.

What About Glazing Using Mediums Other Than Oils?

Glazing with acrylic is no different than with oil. You can use glazes with any medium as long as you let each coat dry completely before applying the next.

How Many Glazes Should I Use?

Remember the first secret of glazing: to use extremely thin paint. So to build up a color to the proper intensity, think about using as many as nine glazes. If you think that’s going to take forever, remember the second rule -- be patient -- and that the more thinly you paint, the faster it will dry.

What Colors Are Suitable for Glazing?

Remember when you paint really thin your opaque colors will appear translucent, almost like your transparent colors. I use my opaque colors in the first glazing layers.

Do I Have to Use Glazing for the Whole Painting?

No, glazing can be just a part of your painting. You can paint as usual and make your last corrections or give more depth to your colors with one or two layers of glazing. What’s fun about glazing is that you can add special effects so discretely that the spectator will appreciate your painting without knowing exactly why.

Is That Really All There Is to Glazing?

Yup. Glazing really is this simple. Anyone can glaze with success. You probably do it already without noticing….

About the author: Gerald Dextraze, who lives in Québec, has been painting with oils since 1976 and has been studying glazing techniques since 2002.