Make the Background Recede in a Reverse Glass Painting – How to Make the Background Recede

Brenda T. Weitzman

When creating a reverse glass painting, you will want the theme, or subject of the painting to stand out. But if you can’t make the background recede, the theme can not stand out. The painting will look flat, and have only two dimensions. If you want the subject to ‘jump out’ of the reverse glass painting, space is needed behind the th. So, how do you put some space between them? Not as hard as you might think, if you follow just a few simple rules.

The first rule to think about is the ‘vanishing point’. Every graphic image will have a vanishing point. Do not look for it, because you may never find it. You only need to know that it is there. The vanishing point is the one spec some where in the distance where all of the outline of the main subject of your painting will evaporate. A good example of this would be in a box. Put one corner of it toward and below your eye level. If you move it away from yourself far enough, it will eventually disappear. If you were to imagine, and mentally draw three lines, with a straight edge to your vanishing point in the distance, you will form the outer dimensional lines of the top and one side of the box. To create the front and back of the sides of the box, there will be a corresponding vanishing point in the opposite direction. Now do not fixate on this, just know that it is there. If you fixate, the end result will be an architectural drawing, and not a piece of art. What this all amounts to, is that as things move further away from you in the painting, items of the same dimension will diminish in size.

Now let us talk about color! This is my favorite part, even though I do tend to be a little conservative with it in my own paintings. The colors of your main subject should be vibrant and pure. By ‘pure’ I do not mean straight out of the tube. What I do mean to say is strong and with substance. If the browns that you bought in the tubes were not exactly what you wanted, and you decided to mix your own brown with red and green, do not allow it to get diluted with lighter and more distant colors. The more you can keep your up close and personal colors pure, the more you can make the background recede! This can be thought of proportionally, much the same as the vanishing point.

After the main subject of your reverse glass painting is in place and dry, it is time to begin the background. For this, you will need white paint, black paint, and a lot of in between grays. The darkest of these, can not be very dark at all if they are going to be in the distance. If there are trees in the background, a little of these grays should be mixed with the greens of the trees. And even more of the lighter gray for the most distant trees. Theoretically, you could think of it as two parts green; one part gray for the trees that are 40′ away from you, and one part green; one part gray for the trees that are 80′ away.

Of course there are more tools and rules that you could use to help the background recede in a reverse glass painting, but in an effort to keep it a piece of art, and not just a snap shot, it is also a good thing to let your imagination have it’s own way too! I truly hope that this helps in your efforts at reverse glass painting, or even just inspires a novice to give it a try. Good luck, and happy painting!

Copyright 2007 by Sally Willson

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