Oil Painting Terminology

  • Wet into wet — wet color into, over or alongside other wet color

  • Wet over dry — traditional approach allowing systematic control.

  • Painting to completion or in sections — more control with latter but disjointed appearance is a danger.

  • Painting in layers — principle behind traditional technique.

  • Refining foundation — adding to the body color with more subtlety of color and tone.

  • Finishing with glazes — final modifications of foundation and layers with glazes.

  • Varying paint thickness — modifying tone and color by thickness of paint: common but needs great skill.

  • Dead coloring — first application in layered technique, either built up subsequently into further layers or into underpainting.

  • Underpainting — painting which is designed to combine with later painting (often but not necessarily glazes) to produce desired effect.

  • Using ground — allowing the ground to partly show through in the finished picture.

  • Body color — paint given body: dense paint: generally paint made opaque by adding white.

  • Grisaille — underpainting wholly in shades of gray.

  • Scumble — partial covering of white applied while paint below is still wet.

  • Frottie — complete film of semi—transparent paint, either with glaze or smeared thin.

  • Scraping back — paint scraped back to reveal ghost of last application or some of previous.

  • Rubbing — using fingers to rub in paint: a controlled and useful technique.

  • Glazing — layer of transparent color: laid on when paint below is practically dry: any color can be used with glazing medium but transparent colors are best.

  • Impasto — thick paint standing proud of surrounding surface: used for textural effects and also with glazes.

  • Blending — softening edges of paint after they have been applied, usually with clean brush.

  • Teasing — manipulating paint after it has been set down.

  • Hatching — strokes or cross-strokes in wet paint that blend at a distance.

  • Scoring — scratching back to underlying layer: often used to represent hair or creases in skin.

  • Oiling out. When the painting or part of the painting dries dull and opaque (i.e. the paint sinks in) it is wise, prior to continuing painting, to gently rub in a retouching varnish as as to correctly judge colours.


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