Progress report: glacis, lavis, vellatura…


I’ve worked some more at my Donna Gabriella Christa (these are the names of the 2 models I used in the painting, taking what I’m more interested from each of them, like some ancient Greek sculptor ? did to compose the perfect Venus…) The green skin and the eyes (made bigger now) and some of the background – which I wasn’t satisfied – are now changed to something else, just another phase, anyway… Here it is a detail of the changed portion…

Since I’ve promised to talk some more about vellatura, glacis and lavis, the way I understand them from my books and my practical experience of at least 7-8 years and since I tend to keep my promises whenever possible, voila:

Glacis and lavis are, in my understanding, the equivalent of the English term “glazing” or “layering” and means a transparent (or at leat tranlucent) color diluted enough to see through it, applied by the artist over a portion (or, in some cases, over the entire) of his painting. Usually, glacis is the term applied for the oil technique and the dilution is made either with turpentine or with a mixt of turpentine and linsed oil.

Lavis is the same glazing but in the watercolor and acrylic technique and the color is diluted, more or less, with water. But one can use also glacis for the acrylics, I think. For instance, I got this dark orange skin color by covering the green skin (sorry Miki!) with a glaze (glacis, lavis) of magenta + quinacridone burnt orange…

Vellatura, used by some as the exact equivalent of glazing, is a SPECIAL king of glazing, in its original and correct meaning. In fact, it’s a white glazing, un glacis de blanc, having the role of getting lighter a portion of (or the entire) painting. One can pass 1-2-3 etc. layers of vellatura, until he (or she) is satisfied with the value contrast… I will probably use one or more layers of vellatura for the skin… The best white to use is the zinc white (in acrylics quite rare, only a few trade marks still produce it; I use Talens/ Amsterdam...) the titanium white being a very opaque and covering kind of white (quality most of the time but not with vellaturas)… Old dutch and Italian masters, after the invention (or reinvention or discovery of oils, whom seem to have been invented effectively a lot earlier than the Van Eyck brothers, in China and Persia…) have used extensively the glacis, lavis, vellatura and some modern masters did also tried them. From Pieter Brueguel and Bosch to Rubens and Goya, the technique gave us masterpieces, paintings with rare, precious, vivid colors. No other technique can give the subtlety, the transparence, the translucent nuances.

And, I forgot, here it is the sketch of my lizard (a little fellow quite bizarre)… I hope it will give some mystery to my Donna Gabriella…

8 responses to “Progress report: glacis, lavis, vellatura…

  1. I really love how you’ve charnged the background here! It’s fascinating to see all the changes. OK, well, I did not like the green skin version… but the lizard is wonderful!😉

  2. You haven’t seen nothing yet, D! The model for the lizard has some very bizarre color characteristics – the reasom I choose it – but now it’s just a sketch…

  3. I like how that skin still has a hint of green showing through – this type of complementary color underpainting makes things much more visually stimulating.

    Thanks for the explanation of the terms and some of the history of their usage! Someday I’d like to play with oils more to experiment with all these interesting techniques.

  4. Danu: was that former green intended as an undercoat or did you simply change your mind and decide to make her skin orange now (as another undercoat to be amended with veladuras)? That robe has gotten richer. I like the new greens and blue. And the flaming hair.

  5. Bob, this is acrylics: I know it can very well look like oils (and I do not understand the commercial upper hand oils seems to have over acrylics). When I’ll consider this painting finished I may very well search to give it a “oil” like look, by coating it with 2-3 layers of gloss varnish… I’m not in any position to give you advice, Bob, but I would (and will) stick to acrylics. They have as many technical possibilities as oils AND THEN SOME… And you can do the work you’ll have to spend a months with oils in a few days…

  6. Yes, swallows, the green layer was calculated only to give me the ombers and a “cuivre” (brass?) color I like ar the mediteraneen type of skin… I already gave 2 coarts (layers) of vellatura (white glacis) over it… I will give it another 2-3, probably… and some other glacis after, maybe… I don;t know precisely how the final painting will look like… I go baby steps…

  7. ovidiu stanomir

    Tare stranie mai e “dona” asta ! Seamana din ce in ce mai mult cu o psihopata…, de parca ar fi vazut ielele !

    Sau poate sunt eu naucit de canicula…

  8. Cred ca e mai curand canicula, Ovidiu…

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