Friday, July 22, 2011


Moonrise Over the Pines
36 x 30

“Trenta, quaranta velature!” (Translation: glazes, thirty to forty)

Velatura- don't you just love that word? Go ahead, say it a couple of times...doesn't it just roll right off your tongue? I've been doing some research on terms that were used in the Renaissance to describe what we refer to as glazing or to indirect techniques in general. Velatura seems to be used here by Titan as a synonym for glazing. But, other information indicates that this word referred to a milky or translucent glaze made with opaque paint rather than transparent paint. So, a scumble, right? Well, maybe. But, the distinction, at least among some writers, seems to be in the consistency of the mixture- a velatura being a more fluid glaze like consistency and a scumble being a dryer mixture. Whatever it was, Titian is said to have put it on with his fingers.

What comes through loud and clear is that all of these techniques were used in various ways, combinations and with great inventiveness in order to achieve desired optical effects and create form. For example, in Titian's case he used methods used in the earlier Flemish school, those developed in Venice and his own unique variations of those. Later, Rembrandt did the same, combining directly painted passages with voluptuous layers of both transparent and thinned opaque paint.

I started this painting as a demo back in April when my workshop group was here. Since then, I've worked on it off and on and added many layers- glazes, velaturas and scumbles. I've also used passages of glaze impasto- something I've been unable to find an historic term for, although Rembrandt used them. Whatever you call it, I love the look it creates. These details give a good idea of what the surface looks like and the soft, atmospheric look it creates. It also shows how much the larger image "tightens" up in the photography.

Velatura. Say it slowly...


Anonymous said...

Fascinating! Fabulous passages of scrumptious treatment of paint.

Anonymous said...

"Velatura" is indeed a delightful, very sensual word - using the "sensual" in terms of our 5 senses. It's also fun to say and repeat. Somewhere I heard the term "earworm" to describe those songs, words, or phrases that get stuck in our heads and won't go away. Usually, those are awful things that we really don't want to be hearing, but this morning it is nice to have "velatura" be my earworm of the day. Thank you for a most interesting post. And, I love how the painting has turned out.

Deborah Elmquist said...

Absolutely yummy. These techniques exemplify what I consider to be the mystery of the painting. It's there but not there if that makes sense? Those passages that are glazed makes you want to look longer and explore the surface. Besides being part of the mystery, your painting using velatura creates a mood that resonates with me. Can't wait to take your workshop next year.

Deborah Paris said...

Thank you Maggie!

"earworm"- what a great word and so descriptive of those things you can't get out of your head!

Thank you Deborah. I am so glad to hear you will be doing the workshop-I think it is going to be a really special week!

Lisa McShane said...

I like the closeups here. I've been noticing what I've thought of as a 'milky glaze' on paintings that I love (Inness, for instance) and that must be a velatura. What medium are you using for that?

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Lisa. I'm using liquin for most of it and galkyd gel for the glaze impasto passages.

loriann signori said...

Beautiful surface. Thanks for sharing the velatura. Hang in there with your heat.