Above: A beautiful example of multi-layered blending by Sharon Kingston
The most common way to kill the vitality in a painting, blending is a smooth transition between two colors, painted when wet. This is difficult to do with acrylic because it dries so danged fast, so using a slow drying paint like Golden OPEN Acrylics might help.
3 Blending Techniques
- 1) THE STITCH: The most commonly taught blending technique. With the stitch, the painter applies a patch of one color, a patch of a second color, and uses a clean brush to stitch the first and second together with criss-crossing X strokes to mix the in-between colors. This blending technique is one of the most commonly taught, difficult to accomplish, and due to paint removal, is one of the most common ways to kill the vitality in a painting.
- 2) THE CLEAN PULL: A related blending technique is to move the light into the dark only with a limited number of strokes – light into dark only – not blending the dark into the light. This helps avoid mud.
- 3) THE FLUFFER: Once colors are close, a quick pass with a soft clean brush can diffuse any unwanted edges. This creates a soft, harmonious, atmospheric effect, such as the painting by Sharon Kingston at the top of this post. Wipe your soft fluffer with a clean dry rag after each stroke. Fluffing with a dirty fluffer removes the value ranges, and makes mud. This effect an easily be overused, but can be effective for thin areas of paint like sky, or areas you don’t want softly laid brush strokes to show. Fluffers are ineffective for thick paint.
(Blogger’s warning: “Clean Pull and Fluffer” are totally made up terms, and if you use them in conversation you will look silly)
Many artists (including me) avoid blending, believing the more you touch your canvas without adding specific paint colors, the more lifeless it becomes. Instead of blending two colors together, they mix and apply the third color with a brush stroke.
“It cannot be too often insisted upon that the canvas should be touched by the brush as seldom as possible in oil painting. The more often paint is touched, the less vital the impression.”
– Harold Speed, Oil Painting Techniques and Materials.
In this video Florent Farges demonstrates blending and brushwork. Farges illustrates how you can create beautiful color transitions in your painting without loosing the vitality of your colors.
Seattle Artist League: art school, art classes, painting classes, figure drawing.