Why paint on black ground?
With the canvas already colored, there is no need to
cover every centimeter of it. While painting colors are less
likely to become muddied by mixing as they touch. Ground
color can separate different colors painted wet next to wet,
avoiding unwanted mixing. Black is the darkest value. From
the start, it provides for maximum contrast with highlights
essential to painting glass. Other color grounds can be
extremely effective as well, especially red. The color
ground, allowed to consistently peep through between painted
brush marks, gives an overall sense of unity to the finished
Note: In this example demonstration
the subjects are colorless, either white or clear glass, in
order to promote free use of a wide range of
Click on any image to
Step 1 - Full contrast value
Using only white, first record the brightest highlights
in thick, opaque strokes. Continue with white recording all
other value areas, leaving the darkest areas
Tip: Following the "fat over lean"
rule, add no linseed oil to initial paint applied in all
Tip: Create grays with drybrush technique; let more black to
show through for darker grays.
Step 2 - Distant background
Paint everything behind the glass (before adding more
detail to the glass itself) in muted, less focused terms,
covering the black ground. Paint between already recorded
white and light-value glass details using medium value
Tip: Cool colors visually recede
and are therefore effective in backgrounds. Dull colors
created from complementary color mixtures also visually stay
Step 3 - Lighter
Since all colors are darker than white, any color mixed with
white can be used for lighter value areas. Avoid painting
the glass, other than adding a dash here and there to
reflect colors added to surrounding surfaces.
Tip: Allow black canvas to show
through, projecting the foreground. Repeatedly skip little
spaces between color/value shapes.
Step 4 - Medium values
Paint everything but the glass, except for a few touches.
Represent all surfaces and opaque objects with appropriate
values, bridging gaps between white and black. Some areas
drybrushed initially in white may now be painted over with
matching value color.
Tip: Limit the number of colors in
mixing. They get muddy when too many are involved.
Tip: Warmer/brighter colors visually project and are
therefore effective in the foreground.
Step 5 - Details
Use more color. Go beyond monochromatic or analogous color
limitations. Think of how fine crystal reflects multiple
colors and go for the sparkle. Light contains all color;
glass appears more reflective when many colors are applied
separately/unmixed. Maintain appropriate value. Keep some
Tip: Visual vibration (more
sparkle) results from bits of juxtaposed complementary
Step 6 - Glazing
Essential to a transparent look is the glazing method of
painting tinted oil over dry areas. Glaze on shapes of glare
and shadow on front and back surfaces of the glass. Allow to
dry and repeat as needed, finishing with front surface
details that overlap the glass' back surface and
Tip: Glazing works ONLY over paint
that is dry to the touch. It consists of mostly oil medium
with a tiny amount of white or color paint mixed