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  #1  
Old 01-06-10, 01:54 AM
artistcb artistcb is offline
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Default Any tips on glazing a smooth sky?? I've tried everything listed in the other thread!

Hi,

I'm new to this and I'd like to make smooth skies like Jeff G's or Koo Schadler's.

I've tried so many things and I have been working on this since this morning and it's almost 9 pm!

I tried the cosmetic sponge but I must be doing it wrong. While it looks really soft and "moist" I can't seem to get it done without obvious marks.

I've tried doing ribbons but that didn't work for me.

I tried more egg.

I even tried spraying it in a fine mist but ending up with what looked like cheap countertop laminate.

I am now trying it with a drier brush brushing in all directions and it is starting to cover nicely but it looks so dry. Not what I wanted.

Any ideas for me? Should I just end it and put an oil paint glaze on everything?

Sorry to sound so discouraged. I know it takes lots of practice but I don't even feel like I'm on the right track to get the look I want.

Any ideas or techniques you could pass on?
Thank you
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Old 01-06-10, 09:27 PM
artistcb artistcb is offline
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Maybe it is because I am using Cobalt and it seems pretty weak and transparent????

I did the skin underpainting in Terre Verte/white and it is smooth as can be. I think I did a better job of crosshatching there (which by the way I don't strive to show).

Nonetheless, I'm trying again and now with a stronger base of Cobalt.

Update:

Well, I didn't quite get what I was initially looking for so I'm still interested if anyone has any tips or tricks....but, I did end up with a highly satisfying clouded sky and feeling much better about it!

Last edited by artistcb; 02-06-10 at 12:18 PM. Reason: Update
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  #3  
Old 03-06-10, 03:46 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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I'm glad you feel better. Me, I'm a drybrush scrubber, but I'll grant you every method has its uses. I wouldn't add more egg, though, as that can lead to cracking. I actually like more transparent colors, like Ultramarine. One way to do it is to lay down a solid, opaque, quite light blue (your favorite blue mixed with a lot of Titanium white -- we all know not to use Zinc, right?), then let it dry for at least a week, then drybrush on slowly and gently Ultramarine, not too much at a time. Cobalt's probably fine, too, but I don't use it.
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Old 07-06-10, 01:56 AM
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Alessandra's approach is a bit like mine except that I use big brushes and make use of the fact that the egg is a fine glazing medium and so can be put done in big transparent swathes. With a bit of use of white mixed into the various blues and violets a soft glowing buildup can be achieved. The problem with my method is that adequate drying does need to happen between coats otherwise you can get a sporadic lifting of undercoats.
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Old 13-06-10, 01:17 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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Oh yes, I use big brushes too -- up to 3 cm wide cheap softish nylon brushes, because the drybrush scrubbing method sandpapers them down and leaves them looking like old exploded thistleheads. I couldn't bear to do that to a good brush.

And I got thoroughly bored with using tiny brushes to do large, flat areas a long time ago.
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  #6  
Old 15-06-10, 02:13 PM
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Koo Schadler Koo Schadler is offline
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I use primarily cosmetic sponges to get my sky transitions (with occasional layers applied with a 1 1/2" synthetic sable brush). Yes, as you noted, the cosmetic sponges do a leave a mark. Everything leaves a mark in tempera - it is what I call a "mark medium", in that the paint cannot be pushed around after application (or it will lift). So whatever implement you use to apply the paint will leave its mark, i.e. a brush leaves a brushstroke, a sponge leaves a sponge mark. The trick is to MINIMIZE the mark - make it less noticeable.

A cosmetic sponge is a smooth surface, so that helps in minimizing the mark. Make sure to use wedge shaped sponges (not the flat pads). A high quality sponge (versus one from a chain drug store) has more spring and behaves more predictably. I trim the square edges at the base of the sponge to soften the corners, so they don't leave little square print marks. I also sort of bunch up the sponge in my hand, so basically I'm creating as rounded a surface as possible on the bottom of the sponge.

I usually mix four values from my sky: a light, light middle, middle dark, and dark. My preferred colors are titanium, ultramarine, and a small amount of prussian, but I think you can use whatever colors you like. The dark isn't too dark, as skies (except at night) don't get all that dark. A percentage of titanium white is added to each value (more, obviously, for the lighter values). Tip: adding opacity to your colors will always help with transitions. So even in my "dark" value, I always include some white.

Use a different sponge for each value. I use a fairly dense paint to start. Through practice you learn how to "load" your sponge properly, i.e. get enough paint on it to allow it to go on evenly, but not so much that you can't control it. Press down hard with the sponge to get even coverage (don't leave a half-baked mark). As I get to where the next value begins, I begin to feather out my sponge marks, making them a bit more amorphous. Below that, using a new sponge, I lay in a swatch of the the second value; then I feather it up a bit on top of the previous value, and then down a bit as a base for the third value. In other words, the values need to overlap somewhat to optically blend.

The first two or three layers are necessarily rough looking - as mentioned, tempera is a mark medium. As the layers accumulate, I make them thinner and thinner, to leave less and less of a mark. By the end (layer 15 or 20) the paint is whisper thin.

Occasionally I apply a very, very thin layer of white or a very thin glaze of a transparent color over the whole sky. This further helps to unify the layers. These glazes however must be very thin - when I apply them, it almost looks like I've done nothing! If they are too substantial, you will just leave more "marks" on your sky. Think of it as if you are laying a very thin piece of misty or colored cellophane over the surface.

As you say, it takes practice. I like how smooth I can get transitions with sponges, and they are a relatively fast way to build up paint. However they are understandably not for everyone. I have a couple of photos of skies in progress that might help you understand the process, but I'm not sure how to post them....I'll try to follow the directions given on the site, but my computer skills are limited. I'm happy to email the photos to you if you like.

As Alessandra noted, adding more egg is not the answer. Once you've tempered your paint properly, i.e. have gotten the correct ratio of egg to pigment, don't mess with it. Also, don't wait until the oil glazing stage. Its best to learn how to get it in tempera.

Koo

Last edited by Koo Schadler; 15-06-10 at 02:20 PM.
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  #7  
Old 18-06-10, 10:49 PM
artistcb artistcb is offline
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Sorry I have not been on the boards for awhile to post replies. Thank you all for extending your ideas to me. They are greatly appreciated and I will definitely try them. I am eager to share my first egg tempera with all of you! I received an honorable mention for it. Unfortunately, I did not have as much time as I needed to be able to correct the things I didn't care for but since I now have the piece back in hand I am going to do so before asking for your critiques. I'll post it in the appropriate thread soon Thank you again!
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  #8  
Old 28-10-10, 10:58 PM
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Airbrush. You'll need one of the bigger brushes, and double action gives more control, but they are more expensive.

I also use an airbrush to "glaze" a painting with egg and water only, to even out the often unavoidable, for me, variations in sheen.

Bron

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  #9  
Old 01-11-10, 03:08 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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Holy cow! A real egg tempera airbrush painter?

How do you find it works? The only other person I remember running across who tried airbrushing tempera had problems with control and cleanup.

Let's hear it for stretching techniques.
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  #10  
Old 01-11-10, 08:33 PM
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Alessandra,

I use the air brush when the image needs a smooth gradation, or if I want to subtly change or shift tone and color over a broad area. Here is an example of air brush for the sky, then regular technique for clouds.

I build the color in multiple passes, which helps with control, and I clean as soon as I'm done. I'm also set up with a spraying area, with a turntable and exhaust fan, plus, I do a lot of spraying in making frames. Lot's of practice.

Reginald Marsh is good for non-traditional techniques; great learning experience to really study one of his paintings close.

Bron

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http://bronislausjanulis.com/Site/Home.html
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