glazing with watercolor

learning watercolor techniques


what is glazing?

Glazing with watercolor, acrylic and oil paint is one of the basic painting techniques.

A transparent paint layer is applied over a dry paint layer.

The viewer sees both layers of paint and their eye visually mixes the color.

Glazing produces more luminous colors than when the colors are mixed on the palette.

I show you how to glaze while I am painting some luscious mangoes using watercolor.

For this painting I actually purchased a couple of mangoes for my real life models.

I get to eat them when the painting is finished. Yum-yum!

Learn glazing with watercolor as I paint some mangoesLearning To Glaze With Watercolor

getting ready

I sketched out the mangoes with the Rule of Thirds and transferred them to my painting surface.

I normally use Aquabord for my watercolor paintings. I want to show you some of the other watercolor supports.

watercolor paper

You may get large sheets of watercolor paper, 22"x30" in the common weight of 140 pounds.

The paper may be cut into smaller sizes. A half sheet would be 15"x22" or a quarter sheet would be 11"x15".

You may purchase paper already cut to smaller sizes.

Paper that is 140# or smaller must be fastened down to keep it from warping.

Alternately a watercolor block of 140# paper has the sides glued together to keep the paper from buckling when water is applied.

A second option is to use 300# paper. It stays flat when water and paint are applied. I used 9"x12", 300# cold-pressed paper for this painting demo.

Watercolor Block of 140# PaperWatercolor Block of 140# Paper
300# Sheets of Watercolor Paper300# Sheets of Paper

what is the best watercolor paint?

There are many good quality watercolor paints. My personal favorite brand is Winsor Newton.

Professional artist paints contain more pigment than the student paints. Consequently they give better coverage. The difference in paintability is worth the price.

how do you use watercolor tube paint?

We are all familiar with watercolor pan paints from grade school. Pan paints are handy for painting out in the field.

Tube paints are a better choice for studio painting. They contain more glycerin to keep them moist and flexible. It is easier to get a brush full of paint from tube paints. They give us more colorful paintings.

my color scheme

I used a triad of the primary colors. Primary colors are equally spaced around the color wheel.

Glazing with watercolor works best with transparent colors.

  • New Gamboge/Lemon Yellow/Raw Sienna
  • Winsor Red
  • Ultramarine Blue/Cobalt Blue

New painters please refer to How to Watercolor Paint for more necessary preparations.

glazing with watercolor

step 1

Using a 3/4" flat 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

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.

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

If you don't have Winsor Red, use Permanent Rose which is a transparent color.

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 Cobalt Blue 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.

i made a mistake

Normally all of my paintings are done Alla Prima, both with oils and watercolor.

I enjoy learning new things. This was my lesson on glazing with watercolor.

I found out I should have put the blue down first. Then glaze the yellow on top of the blue.

Put a wet wash of yellow firstI glazed on yellow first.
The blue made muddy colorsThe blue glaze resulted in muddy colors.
I started removing the leaf colors.
I used Cobalt Blue watercolorThen I glazed on Cobalt Blue
before glazing on yellow.

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

So I removed the color to start over. (The color is removed on the top two leaves in image 2.)

Now, notice the lively leaf color in the images below. They are much better in my opinion.

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.
Add Raw Sienna on the shadow sideThen i applied some Raw Sienna.

The Sienna goes on while the Gamboge is still wet.

The two colors blend together.

While the yellows are still moist, I added a bit of blue in areas on the shadow side of the stems.

The finished painting is up the page.

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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