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How To Create Luminous Acrylic Paintings: Glazing

translucent layer of paint brushstrokes
Glazing with acrylic paint can offer your artwork a truly luminous quality and it's a fairly simple process. The layers of paint create a thicker film of semi-transparent acrylic that helps to enhance the colours that you are using. A few simple steps can do wonders in enhancing the effects. Here's what you need to know if you want to try out this beautiful technique. It's very easy to make.


1. Prepping your surface is an important step in this process. The more prep you are willing to do, the more you can enhance the effects of glazing. You can start with a very smooth surface if you want to get a look like in the image above where the striations of the brushstrokes are unbroken lines. This means that you will need to gesso your canvas enough so that it is smooth and the texture of the canvas is covered. If the surface isn't smooth enough then paint pigment will pool in the "pockets" of the texture.

On the other hand..... you can opt for creating a very textured surface in order to exploit the effect of the pigment pooling in the craters of the surface. If that is the look you are going for you can start with a molding paste or another heavy acrylic medium to create an initial texture then apply your glaze once it is dry. The image below is from The photo shows sponging off the high relief of the textured surface to enhance the effect of glazing over a textured surface.


Glazing paint over a textured surface
2. Choosing colours to glaze with is another crucial part of this process. Understanding the basics of colour theory is good - or experiment with swatches first. For example, if you glaze a yellow over a blue it will take on a green colour. Colours that are opposite on the colour wheel - like red and green will create a darker colour and sometimes quite a muddy result which is fine if that's your aim. Experimenting is highly suggested so that you don't end up loosing luminosity by accident. Another important quality of colour will be it's transparency. If a colour is opaque or applies in a very solid manner that you can't see through then it is ok to use it as your first base colour but not on a later layer as it will cover up the transparent effect that you are creating. You can always add more medium to increase the transparency of the colour.


3. Use a medium to increase transparency of colours and create extended drying time. If you are trying to get an even application of colour across the entire surface you can use medium to get a longer "open" time so that the paint doesn't dry as fast. I recommend the Golden Acrylic Glazing Medium. This medium is available in a satin or gloss finish.


Image source [1]

Image source [2]

About the author

Artist in residence Rebecca Chaperon

Rebecca Chaperon is our Artist-in-Residence

With a compulsion to create unique visual stories, her paintings often follow the thread of a heroine's misadventures through a surreal landscape.

She's had the pleasure of teaching at Langara College and given community workshops on painting techniques with an emphasis on watercolour, oil and acrylic. She is a board member at the Grunt gallery.

View her online portfolio

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