How to Use Glazes to Paint a Portrait

MY DREAM'S BEGINNING, 24"x20", oil on stretched canvas, by Lucy Chen

MY DREAM'S BEGINNING, 24"x20", oil on stretched canvas, by Lucy Chen

Due to limited variety of pigments, the Old Masters used the method of glazing to create an "optical mix of colors". For example, if they wanted to paint violet, they would glaze a transparent layer of red over blue, simply because the violet pigment was not yet discovered.

In order to do glazes, you have to wait for each layer to dry before applying the subsequent layer of paint, and follow the fat-over-lean rule to avoid cracking of the painting surface.

Although this takes time, I find the result to be very rewarding, and the process very meditative.

Because of the transparent and semi-transparent top layers, the cool under painting is able to show through, naturally giving a temperature balance. It is also a fantastic way for beginners to learn about painting skin.

Here is a speed video demonstration of how I used it to paint a self portrait titled "My Dream's Beginning".

If you would like to dive deeper into this method of painting, check out my course "Paint Your Vermeer", where I go into every detail on how to create luminous portraits.