Friday, April 03, 2009

Working on the Hudson River Painting

detail 1
detail 2

detail 3

About this Painting:

I'm about 8 hours into this painting now. I'm thinking about calling it Calm and Storm, sort of a yin/yang theme and very much like life, filled with times of both calm peacefulness and stormy crisis.

All About Scumbling

I've had some questions e-mailed to me about scumbling, and exactly how to do that. I'm going to try and get a video of this but I'm still figuring out how to do that! LOL
Meanwhile I'll try to give some really clear instructions.

1.) You generally scumble a lighter color over a darker color, but that's not an edict carved in stone.
2.) When your darker color is dry make a decision as to how much you want to lighten the value of that area and which color will achieve the effect you are after. For example, if you want to bring down the intensity of a color, you might scumble its complement over it.
3.) To scumble, mix up a pile of paint without using medium, water or any extender.
4.) Dip your brush into the paint and wipe a lot of it off so you're basically working with a dry brush. ( less is more, you don't want a fully loaded brush)
5.) Apply the paint using a scrubbing, circular motion. This takes some elbow grease, especially if you're covering a large area.
6.) Basically, you are dragging a thin layer of paint over the area.
7.) If you're using a textured surface, like linen, you can get a beautiful soft, sfumato effect, because the paint will cling to the higher threads and not get into the depressions between the threads. This is what allows the original color beneath to show through.

I have 2 main reason I like to use the scumbling techinque:

a.) It creates soft, mysterious, indistinct atmosphere.
b.) It allows the eye to optically mix colors, resulting in a multi-layered sophisticated range of colors.
Here are a few different definitions and explanations of scumbling I've come across. I share them here because we all learn differently and if my explanation didn't make sense perhaps someone esle's will. My goal is always to help you learn!


Scumbling is painting thin layers of opaque light colour over dark colours, which gives a broken colour effect. Scumbling is rather like glazing, but with light colours over dark. The colours mix optically rather than on the palette, and the result is shimmery, opalescent. Think of the pearly water surrounding Monet's water lilies.

Scumbling - What is Scumbling?
By Helen South,

Definition: Scumbling usually refers to the application of a fine layer of paint with a very dry brush. It is sometimes described as a glaze effect, but rather than the pigments being dispersed in a transparent medium, scumbling creates a fine mesh of opaque pigment.
In drawing, scumbling is sometimes used to describe a random, scribbled texture, with figure-eight and concave shapes used to create a spiky texture, rather than the common circular scribble. Some teachers have come up with their own inventive names for the method, such as 'squirkling' or 'brillo pad' (the later after a brand of kitchen pot-scourer.)
Painterly scumbling effects can be created by using fine pencil lightly applied in a random fashion. The softening or blending effect of dry scumbled paint can be mimicked by using layers of light, random erasing combined with random hatching. Shading with the side of a pencil or broken pastel can create a similar, open texture.
Also Known As: squirkling, brillo pad technique,

Scumbling Techniques for Oil Paintings

Scumbling with oil paint is a simple way of introducing texture and broken colour effects into your oil paintings.
You can achieve a textural scumbling effect in your oil paintings by dragging thick paint lightly across the painting surface so that patches of the underlying colour show through the scumbled oil paint. The scumbling can be done using a brush or a painting knife and the paint should be as thick as possible and not diluted with turpentine.
Another scumbling technique is the reverse of a glaze being a film of oil paint that can be thin or creamy as long as it is opaque or semi-opaque. With the semi-opaque paint you modify rather than obliterate the colour beneath. You can also avoid covering the colour underneath by applying the scumble with a dry brush.

Scumbling Pastels

One of the great advantages of pastels over other mediums is the vibrancy you can achieve with color. Possibly the best method for getting this is by scumbling -- after a layer of pastel has been applied, and fixed, lightly drag a soft pastel on its side across the top. This creates a broken covering of the new color over the top.
The result is visually stimulating and very textural, and careful choice of colors will produce amazing results.
Tip: This method works best with the softest soft pastels.


Bakeling said...

Beautiful landscaping !

Jane Hunt said...

I'm excited to see the finished piece! I had no idea I'd been "scumbling" all these years :)

LSaeta said...

Beautiful paintings! I am glad to have found you. I love the softness of this painting and I REALLY like the brighter colors in the floral paintings too. Great job!

Linda Schweitzer said...

Beautiful painting! And you really have a nice website too, which draws viewers in.

Joyce Dempsey said...

Thank you for your explanation on scumbling. I can understand your meaning by looking at your painting Calm and Storm, expecially in Detail 3. It is a very intriguing painting, I feel I can hear and fell thunder off in the distance.

Jan Blencowe said...

Bakeling...Thanks so much I'm always happy when people are pleased with my paintings.

Jan Blencowe said...

Hi Jane,

We often just experiment and find what works for us and then find there's an actual name for it! The important thing is finding what works for you and helps you create the kind of art you love.

Jan Blencowe said...

Hi Leslie,

I'm really a color junkie at heart lol. Controlling color in the landscape for natural hues and tight harmoinies is one interest I have but boy do I like to let loose with florals and let the color sing.

Jan Blencowe said...

Hi Linda,

Thanks so much for the kind words!

Jan Blencowe said...

Hi Joyce,

I'm trying to get a video together that show exactly how scumbling works. Glad the detail shots help to explain it a bit more. Scumbling is great for creating veils of color, atmosphere softness and mystery.