Tuesday, August 23, 2011

scumbling along

Earlier this year when I became too impatient for my oil paints to dry, I opted for acrylics (a medium I didn't have much experience with) to create my new Dust Bowl Glimpses paintings. And while I enjoyed how fast I was able to transfer my ideas to canvas using the acrylics, I was frustrated at how fast they dried.

I realize that there are products that can be mixed with acrylics to lengthen their drying times, but I wasn't interested in that option. So I began experimenting with acrylics and stumbled upon a painting technique called "scumbling".

What is scumbling? It involves applying a thin layer of opaque or semi-opaque paint over a layer of different color of paint. Scumbling may be achieved by scraping, scrubbing or dragging a layer of paint over a dark underpainting, resulting in a hazy, opalescent effect. Scumbling allows artists to create smooth transitions from light to dark and to modify the original color of the overlaid area without completely concealing it.

Here I'm dragging a rather thick layer of raw sienna acrylic paint over a dried layer of paint.

Here is the result. I LOVE it!

Here's a sneak peek at how I used scumbling on my "Fryin' Pone" painting that will be available for sale in my Etsy shop later this week alongside five other Dust Bowl Glimpses paintings. I'm thrilled to have turned a frustration into an opportunity. Cheers!

Here I've scumbled a darker gray acrylic over a lighter gray to create depth on the metal spoon in my "Fryin' Pone" Dust Bowl Glimpses painting. I also scumbled a layer of deeper yellow ochre atop a dried lighter shade.

Full view of "Fryin' Pone".


  1. I love Dust Bowl Glimpses. It's a beautiful and elegant painting. It's very simple and subtle. The texture is soft and delicate. A stunning artwork.

  2. Thank you Shelley...for such wonderful observations (such a compliment coming from a distinguished artist). I am so happy to have discovered your work now, too. Cheers!