Tracing and strengthening – how to mix perfect paint
It’s day #1 of an intensive five-day glass painting course for “long-haul” students who’ve travelled to our studio in Stanton Lacy (see my previous post for your nerve-jangling introduction and an absolutely breath-taking 90-second video).
The story so far …
Our students arrived two days ago to settle in and recover from their jet-lag. And today, refreshed, we went on a whirlwind and empowering tour of undercoating, tracing, strengthening and flooding – the foundations of traditional kiln-fired stained glass painting.
Now … we promised you various tips and updates live from the studio.
Today’s key tip is useful if:
- You sometimes run into problems getting your tracing or strengthening paint to the perfect consistency; or
- You teach glass painting and find your students adding too much water to their palette
Interested? Then let’s get going …
A very useful rule
When you want to trace or strengthen, always make sure you start off from a clean, tidy palette that looks as if it’s just been used for undercoating.
Maybe your palette has indeed just been used for undercoating, in which case everything is fine and easy.
But, if you’ve been doing something else (like flooding or highlighting), just spend a few minutes (however long it takes) transforming it into a palette which looks good for undercoating.
Anyway, here’s what you’re after as your starting-point:
You see the nice clean palette (top-right) with just a fine layer of wet paint all over it? It’s the best place for you to start from. And here’s another shot so you get a really clear idea of where you must always begin:
So, next you add a drop of water, then swirl and twirl your brush:
Then you add a touch of paint, then swirl and twirl some more:
Now you add a drop more water, and swirl and twirl again:
And you continue adding water (and mixing) and paint (and mixing) a little at a time until you have the consistency you want:
The secret is, to create your tracing/strengthening paint a little at a time (not all at once).
1. When you do it a little at a time, you make sure the working puddle is all well-mixed to the same consistency throughout.
2. You also make sure your brush doesn’t become saturated with either water or paint.
3. The third benefit is this. When you take the time to make sure you always start from the same place – here: a clean, tidy palette – you’ll quickly learn how to get exactly where you want. (Because you always start from there. Which means you get really familiar with this-as-a-starting-place.)
I am going to say that third point again, because it’s so important (yet obvious when you think about it):
It’s because you always take the time to start from the same place that you then become experienced in how to get whatever you want from your paint.
Simple – but ingenious.
And as I said earlier, if you ever have problems getting the right consistency, or if you’re a teacher yourself, then this “drop-by-drop” tip is just what you need.
It certainly made a big difference to how people worked with us today. By the evening, all five students were impressively confident about controlling/managing their palette and moving effortlessly from one consistency of paint to another (as the various designs required).
Another live tip tomorrow.
So until then!