Monday, February 21, 2011

Application of Paint

Kathryn emailed me in response to my last post and is interested in information about application of paint. Thanks Kathryn and hopefully others will find the following information helpful too. 

Over time, paint can crack when a thin layer is applied over thick paint. To avoid cracking, begin your painting with a thin application of paint and layer thick paint on top towards the end. Not only does this method help preserve a painting longterm, it also adds interest as well.

Chiaroscuro is the method of applying value to a two-dimensional piece of artwork to create an illusion of a three-dimensional solid form. These strong contrasts between light and dark create interest in a painting. Shadows and dark areas are usually applied with thin paint and left to contrast against lighter areas which are layered with thicker paint.

When I am concerned about thick paint taking too long to dry, I prefer to use a quick drying white by Graham. I mix this quick dry white with my other regular paint colors. Using this approach, I find that instead of taking three days for a painting to dry,  it will dry in a day and a half.

To maintain an even viscosity with my paints,  I mix a solution of half turpentine and half linseed oil. When painting, I dip my clean brush into the mixture, then apply is to my colors and repeat throughout the painting.

John Carlson's book Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting is reference material I refer to often and a must-have for any serious artist. Pages 25-29 specifically address this topic of application of paint. 

Here is a Youtube video demonstration of a 20 x 24 studio painting I completed today. I narrate throughout the video and illustrate what is discussed in this post.


  1. Interesting narrative in the little video.

    I will return to look and learn again. Nice job!! and thanks for the lesson!!

  2. Very interesting to watch and listen as the painting takes shape.
    One of your best, I think.
    Steve Burton