Stained Glass Painting with Oil – Essential Tips: Part 2

Hello again, it’s David here, while Stephen keeps nice and busy (and happy too, I trust) with some fiendishly difficult painting and the exciting new film project we’re working on.

Which leaves me in charge of the blog so that’s why I took the executive decision to remind you of / excite you with the delights of painting with oil on top of unfired water-based glass paint.

And if you missed part 1 of my essential tips to oil-based glass painting, head off there right now and come back when you’re ready.

Now a number of you wrote and asked whether oil-based glass painting is only suitable for advanced or professional glass painters.

So let’s deal with that question before getting to grips with today’s essential tips …

Oil-based stained glass painting – who’s it for?

The answer’s easy. Once you know how to apply a water-based undercoat and how to trace on top of it, you’re ready for oil as soon as you want.

Take this simple image of a book:

Step #1 - simple undercoating, tracing and flooding

Step #1 – simple undercoating, tracing and flooding

Here’s the same glass a few seconds later, now with an oil wash plus some lines in oil:

Step #2: oil wash plus oil lines

Step #2: oil wash plus oil lines

And here it again is after some gentle blending:

Step #3: blended

Step #3: blended

So oil-based glass painting is not for the complete beginner.

But if you’ve got the basics “under your belt”, there’s no limit to how you can use it in your work.

Remember: just one firing for the water – and the oil-based paint on top of it.

And I absolutely guarantee it will go as far as you want to take it. Which is one reason why we write and film so much about it – to make sure you know its potential for you.

So oil-based glass painting takes you from the simple book above to full-sized figures like St. Francis below:

Oil-based glass painting can be as simple or as advanced as you wish

Oil-based glass painting can be as simple or as advanced as you wish

Now let’s get going again.

Tip #6 – Subtle shading is the best use of oil

The secret is always to play to the strengths of whatever medium you’re using.

So water-based glass painting is excellent for precision.

And oil-based glass painting is marvellous for subtlety.

Take a look at the base of the book in step #1 above: look at those sharp water-based lines which represent the shadowy ends of pages. They’re done with water.

Now compare this with the book’s base in step #3: we’ve used oil to add gentle shadows in between the pages.

That’s the kind of thing oil’s perfect for. So, as I said before, either simple:

Oil-based glass painting gives enormous subtlety and delicacy to your work

Oil-based glass painting gives enormous subtlety and delicacy to your work

Or advanced:

Oil-based glass painting - either simple or advanced, but always subtle

Oil-based glass painting – either simple or advanced, but always subtle

Tip #7 – If you don’t like what you see …

Say you’ve applied your oil undercoat, then added some oil traced lines.

Now you’ve started blending and you don’t like what you see.

Even with unfired water-based glass paint underneath, you’ve usually got two options:

  1. Just gently carry on pushing the oil lines around until they’re where you want them to be, or
  2. Apply another oil wash and start again!

Provided that you work carefully and there’s enough gum Arabic in your water-based paint, you’ve nothing to fear.

This is something most glass painters don’t know anything about: how to relax and “chill out” when shading – because with oil you can work at your own pace and keep on making changes until you’re happy with the result.

Tip #8 – How to keep your badger clean

It’s easy for your oily badger to pick up dust and dirt which then gets transferred to your glass and scratches it.

So get into the habit of always cleaning your badger before you use it.

Just flick it several times against a scrunched up piece of paper kitchen towel. That will do the trick.

Tip #9 – How to condition your badger

Here’s how to keep your round-headed badger blender in perfect condition.

Condition with Lavender oil

Condition your round-headed blender with Lavender oil

At the start of an oil-painting session, sprinkle the hairs with several drops of Lavender oil, massage them in, then (to remove any excess oil) gently flick the brush several times against a piece of scrunched up kitchen.

At the end of an oil-painting session, repeat. If the brush is particularly dirty, first rinse it in warm water with some gentle soap, and then apply the Lavender oil.

(At the end of a painting session, you can also sprinkle on a few drops of Lavender oil, then

Tip #10 – How to create the softest highlights in oil

If it’s really gentle highlights you’re after, pick them out right now, then blend again (just be careful not to blend away your highlights altogether).

But don’t fire your glass immediately.

If you do, your oil-based paint will probably bleed as the kiln heats up and dries out the paint.

Instead, every 30 minutes or so, very lightly blend your work. Each time you do this, you badger will absorb some oil from the glass, and thus speed up the drying process.

After a couple of hours, you’ll be fine to fire the glass … if you want to.

Or you can leave it covered overnight, and do some more work on it later on. Which is what we’ll talk about in our next post on Friday.

Until the next time

So these are the essential tips we’ve talked about today:

  1. Oil-based glass painting is for anyone who’s mastered the basics
  2. It’s best for lovely subtle shading
  3. If you don’t like the results, you can change them or remove them altogether
  4. Always clean your badger before you use it
  5. Use Lavender oil to keep your badger in top condition
  6. For softened highlights, pick them out straight away but return and re-blend gently until the oil has dried

Remember to send in your questions and we’ll get on and answer them next week.

Bye for now!

David Williams, designer and painter of stained glass

P.S. Be sure to come back on Friday for the final installment.

P.P.S. Part 3 is now here.