Glossary of art terms ...

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Glossary of art terms ...

From Virgil Elliott

Published before 2005

Timothy Mensching: I think the definitions of scumble and glaze here are fairly solid, though not perfect. At least they may show the difference between a glaze and a scumble more clearly. Virgil, they do not differ greatly from your definitions, but I should say that I also take some issue with your inclusion of rules in color shift. The color shift towards a "warmer sensation" that the glaze produces, and the shift "towards blue" in the scumble, seem like highly specific rules dependent on the colors that are perhaps being used in the context of your book. I find this very confusing without providing examples of the colors used in both layers, and clarification in the cause of said effect.

With no real explanation of the complex optical effect that may occur in glazing/scumbling, it merely sets strange rules of color that could become misleading to any artist. A blue grey glaze over a brown underpainting would obviously not warm the general effect, and the sensation you describe is very vague. I would definitely like more insight into your theories.

Tim M.


What I gave here was a brief, simplified version. In the book I elaborate at length, with explanations of the optical phenomena at work. But feel free to substitute "cooler" for "in the direction of blue" if that suits you better. They mean the same thing. It is a subtle color shift, not a drastic one.

Edward Coley Burne-Jones used these effects extensively in his work, and Charles Lock Eastlake gives some pretty good verbal coverage of it in his book. But it goes back a lot farther than that. The earliest painting I have seen where the scumble effect, as I describe it, is obvious is one by Ferdinand Bol, one of Rembrandt's pupils, 17th century, though it probably goes back to Titian's time. I've seen it in paintings by Philippe de Champaigne and Nicholas Largilliere also, among others, including Bouguereau. So it is not my invention, and I am not the first painter to develop an understanding of it and use it, nor am I the first writer to write about it, though it is far from being common knowledge among painters, even among good painters.

I'd rather not have to post the whole book here in response to the arguments my brief comments summarizing aspects of it have brought from people who have not read it. Those who have nothing left to learn should not buy it; it would be a waste of their time to read it.