Overpainting can be like a veil of mist

March 14th, 2009

What does this photo have to do with painting in layers? mist-over-tree

The photo shows misty water vapor passing in front of some trees. The mist, which is like a thin layer of white applied as a layer on a painting, does three things:

  1. it makes the trees lighter
  2. it makes the colors cooler
  3. it reduces the contrast

You should be aware of these types of effects when painting (whatever the subject matter). They will occur when painting thinly with an opaque mixture over something darker (in this case, mist over trees). Below is an example from a still life painting:

close up of a still life

close up of a still life

There is a thin layer of light gray painted over the streaky background (actually a tabletop). As with the mist in the photo above, this layer makes the background lighter, cooler, and lower in contrast. A strip of the underpaint was left uncovered, as indicated below:

close up of still life

close up of still life, areas labeled

To get the final color right requires getting the overpainting thickness right. Oil paints are better for this than acrylics because they allow adjustment of layer thickness.

[14 April 2009]

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