When oils just aint oils…

Visual Emporium asked our resident materials expert, Leanne Reilly from Musgrave Art about oil glazing and she shared some interesting home recipes as well as advised on some essential commercially available products.

Oil Painting – Glazing

A glaze is an almost transparent film of colour laid over a painted surface, modifying the original tone of the area. The glaze heightens and increases the colour and brightness of the underpainting rather than obscures it. Glazing is used to produce smooth blended effects creating optical depth. It can soften harsh areas as well as lift dull spots. The result is a luminous and enlivened colour. Some colours, such as Alizarin Crimson or Indian yellow, tend naturally toward a glaze-like transparency and there are many other favourites. Glazing is not restricted to transparent pigments alone, using thin layers of semi-transparent and opaque colours can be equally effective.

Read Lucinda Leveille’s article on producing grisaille to learn more about glazing techniques and see the result.

What you will need

  • Very Soft brush
  • Glazing medium (premixed or one you have made from scratch)
  • Oil or Acrylic paint
  • A dry underpainting

glazing-medium-webBrand name prepared glazing mediums

Oil glazing

  • Art Spectrum Liquol (#4 medium)
  • Art Spectrum Glazing medium
  • Schmincke Medium #3
  • Winsor& Newton Liquin
  • Archival Lean Medium
  • Archival Classic Medium

Acrylic Glazing

  • Atelier Glazing Liquid Medium
  • Atelier Clear Painting Medium
  • Matisse Clear Painting Medium
  • Schmincke Acrylic Painting Medium

Old Recipes for Glaze Mediums

A couple of recipes for glaze mediums that you might like to try are as follows (the first one gives good results for all-round purposes and is in wide use):

Recipe 1

  • Stand oil: 1 fluid ounce
  • Damar varnish [5-pound cut]: 1 fluid ounce
  • Pure gum spirits of turpentine: 5 fluid ounces
  • Cobalt drier 15 drops

Recipe 2

  • Damar varnish: 4 fluid ounces
  • Sun-refined linseed oil: 2 fluid ounces
  • Venice turpentine: 1 fluid ounce
  • Pure gum spirits of turpentine: 4 fluid ounces

Sometimes the process of creating your own medium can be an enjoyable part of the creative journey as well as allowing you to fine tune the properties of the medium to suit your needs. Slight changes in the proportion of oily and resinous ingredients will alter it’s properties. Increasing the varnish content will give a more sticky or tacky substance, and decreasing it will make it handle in a more oily way.

Where to find out more

Visit or ring Leanne at Musgrave Art if you have a question relating to art materials and processes and she’ll either have the answer or know where to source it for you!

Phone 07 5531 4010
Musgrave Art Southport Trade Centre
3-15 Jackman St, Southport 4215
Monday to Friday 8.30am-5pm Thursday 8.30am-6pm Saturday 9am-12.30pm

Recipes from: Mayer, Ralph. The Painter’s Craft. An Introduction to Artist’s Methods and Materials. Revised and updated by Steven Sheehan, Director of the Ralph Mayer Center, Yale University School of Art. New York: Penquin Group. 1948. 1991.