Ramblings from the Painter
November 26,2012
Transparency Vs Opaqueness

When you are using Opaque paint, it means that light does not travel through it, the paint has great covering power, so if you put an Opaque paint such as white over another color, you will not be able to see the color that lies underneath. If you are using Transparent color, such as Alizarin Crimson over another color, you will see the color underneath show up but its color will have changed. Its like staining wood. When you stain a piece of furniture, you are staining it instead of painting it because you want the grain to show through, so you use a transparent stain.. This is the transparent way of painting on canvas, painting over another color but not losing the under painting entirely. Another way of saying what this is, is that it is a "Glaze". You can use a glazing medium to thin the transparent paint in order to drag it over another color, changing the undercolors properties just slightly. You can also make a more opaque color (not white)more transparent by using a glazing medium. Generally in a Glaze you are going darker, not lighter. If you decide to go lighter in your painting, you will generally have to use lighter opaque paint because it has greater covering power. A lot of people confuse a Glaze with a Varnish. A Glaze is exactly what I said it was, a Varnish however, is the final step to preserving your painting from dust and also, Varnishing will increase transparency of your colors. Why do you want to do this? Because if you are painting in Acrylic, your initial colors go on wet and look glossy, however in ten minutes they will dry dull and flat. Using a gloss varnish pulls it all back together. This is true with Oil paintings as well, however you will have to wait 6 months to varnish as Oil paints are chemically different than Acrylics.

Posted by Eileen Harder at 06:48

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