glazing with watercolor

learning watercolor techniques

what is glazing?

Glazing with watercolor, it is often called laying down a wash.

Washing one layer of transparent color over another.

Glazing may be used with any type of paint, oil, acrylic, watercolor, etc.

learning how to glaze

I normally paint alla prima on my oil paintings. That means that I mix my colors on my palette or brush and apply them in one layer.

When painting with watercolor I do much the same thing and paint directly with one layer.

Glazing is new for me, so follow me step by step so we can both learn more about glazing.

Learn how to do glazing with watercolor by artist Carol MayLuscious Mangoes

glazing with watercolor

step 1

Using a soft flat watercolor brush I wet the area I would be working on.

I painted the lower mango with the cool yellow, Lemon Yellow.

This mango is behind and farther back than the top mango.

The cool yellow sets it farther back in the painting.

I paint the top mango with the warm yellow, New Gamboge.

Let these colors dry thoroughly. I used a hair dryer.

Initial watercolor washesInitial Washes

Watercolor supplies I use.


step 2

The initial wash must be completely dry, so when you apply more colors, they will not mix together.

Clean your brush of any paint from the previous layer before adding a new layer of paint.

Make a wash of the Winsor Red and water. Winsor Red is a transparent color. If you don't have Winsor Red, use Permanent Rose which is a transparent color.

The Cadmium colors are opaque and do not work well for glazing.

Be sure and let each layer dry thoroughly before you add another glaze layer.

After the painting is dry add a second wash of watercolorSecond Wash = Glazing

step 3

When the underlying colors are thoroughly dry, add the next glaze.

This time we use Ultramarine Blue.

Ultramarine Blue has the characteristic of granulating when it is applied.

I specifically chose Ultramarine instead of other blues because of this characteristic.

I wanted the granulation to portray the color variation of the mango.

Continue glazing the watercolorThe glaze of blue makes green.

apply a shadow

Use the same blue where the top mango overlaps the bottom mango.

Apply a line of blue with a round brush.

Immediately come back with some clear water to feather in the bottom edge of the shadow.

Also, softly apply some blue around the outside edge of the mango.

This makes the mango edge turn away from the viewer and gives it a rounded appearance.

Paint the shadow between the mangoesShadow the overlapping mango.

continue glazing

Continue glazing with watercolor on both mangoes.

It took more than one glaze of the red to achieve the mango color.

Glazing with watercolor takes multiple layers.

The viewer's eye sees down thru the multiple transparent layers.

I also added more glazes of yellow to intensify the color.

i still used the warm yellow on the top mango.

The cool yellow on the bottom mango will set it behind the top mango.

Continue glazing until you are satisfied with their color.

Finish glazing the mangoesFinish glazing the mangoes.

The leaves

i do the lower leaves first because they are set behind the fruit.

I used Raw Sienna close to the fruit.

As I moved away from the fruit I blended to Lemon Yellow.

I left some paper white for interest.

Your paint may go outside of the leaf area like mine did on the right-hand side.

While the paint is still wet, blot it up with a tissue or a paper towel.

If the paint is already dry, use a wet brush to dampen it. Then lift it off with your tissue.

Put a wet wash on the leavesDo the lower leaves first.

my glazing lesson

I enjoy learning new things. We can learn from our mistakes.

This was my lesson on glazing with watercolor.

Put a wet wash of yellow firstI glazed on yellow first.
The second layer was Cobalt Blue.
It made a muddy color!
So I tried using the blue first.
The blue made muddy colorsI started removing the muddy colors.
Loosen the paint with a stiff brush
then blot it off with tissue. The top two leaves have the blue removed.
I used Cobalt Blue watercolorThen I glazed on Cobalt Blue
before glazing on yellow.
Looking back the mistake was the blue, not when it was layered.

so what did i learn about glazing?

I like bright luminous colors. i think that is the goal of glazing with watercolor.

Ultramarine Blue would have been better. Cobalt made a muddy color either under or on top of the yellows.

Lemon Yellow made a much cleaner green. I used Lemon Yellow on leaves 1, 4 and 5. They much have cleaner greens.

Raw Sienna in the leaves 2 and 3 gave an earthy green. See the difference in the photos below.

Transparent watercolor paints


direct painting

My normal watercolor painting method is direct painting. I enjoy the freedom of painting directly.

I did not wait for the paint to dry before adding another color. That way the paint colors mingle together.

To me this is the joy of painting with watercolors - the beauty of the way the colors blend together.

Paint the stem with New GambogeI paint the stems with New Gamboge.

While the yellow is still moist, add a bit of Raw Sienna on the shadow side of the stems.

Add Raw Sienna on the shadow sideAdd Raw Sienna to form the stems.

Paint blue in some areas on the shadow side of the stems. The colors blend together.



Now we both know a bit more about glazing with watercolor.

And I get to eat my mangoes. Yippee!

You are ready to paint your own luscious mangoes?  Enjoy!

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