How to Create a Reverse Painting on Glass
Glass is a non-absorbent painting support which does not allow paint to easily adhere to it - apart from through the paint's own drying process.
For this reason the outlines of a subject painted on glass need to be simplified when applied to an extremely smooth glass
surface. Simplifying a subject does not necessarily detract from the end result after the painting is completed and the final
result can often have an appearance similar to that of naive art in relation to composition and form and a certain number of other
details. Many artists may find that such simplification can actually be very appealing.
Working the paint or changing outlines without smudging the surrounding areas of un-dried paint may require some concentration
in the beginning, as well as a certain amount of skill, but with patience and the development of their skills using this painting
technique, artists will find that applying and mastering the use of glass as a support will become easier as time progresses.
MATERIALS REQUIRED FOR PAINTING ON GLASS
Choose clear unflawed glass (or Plexiglas) in the shape and size you wish to use. In order to begin mastering the technique
of reverse painting it is advised to choose smaller sizes to begin with.
It is important to use a paint that will adhere properly to the surface of the glass. Oil based paints or acrylics are often
used for this reason. There are also opaque and transparent ceramic artist colors that have been especially manufactured for
using on a non-absorbent surface. Metallic colors (e.g.. gold, silver or copper) can also be interesting to work with. There are
an increasing number of new art products available today that may be suitable for painting on a non-absorbent surface such as glass.
To begin choose a selection of small or medium-sized paintbrushes with fine, flat and pointed tips. Larger brushes can
be used for working on a larger scale. Artists can also use less conventional tools for applying paint if they wish, depending on
the effects obtained through experimentation that may interest them.
Used for outlines (if required) and finer details. It can be an advantage to use interchangeable nibs suitable for creating both thick and thin outlines.
Ink for creating outlines on glass
The inks used need to be suitable for applying to a non-absorbent surface such as glass. As an alternative paint can
also be thinned down into a more liquid form and used for creating outlines in which case attention must be given to to creating the right mixture of fluidity and thickness.
A painting palette or something similar to mix your paint on.
A palette knife -(optional) for mixing paint.
Artists paint cleaner or thinner - used for cleaning or sometimes for thinning, and depending on whether oil based or water-based paints are used.
A paint-drying agent - (optional) For mixing with paints to help speed up the drying process
Paper toweling or some clean rags
A mirror - (optional) can be used to check the progress of your painting while you are continuing to work. Place the mirror in a position where it will reflect your artwork from its viewing side.
Cello tape - or a similar average-width sticking tape
An easel - (optional) to prop your work on
A glass-cleaning product
PREPARING THE GLASS
Choose a piece of clear glass in the dimensions you would like to work with and check carefully to make sure the glass is
neither scratched nor flawed. It is worthwhile remembering that a flaw in the glass itself will often detract from the finished
appearance of a painting and may be impossible to remove after the completion of your artwork.
The sheet of glass that is to become your artwork constitutes the following:
(1) The 'painting side' - which is the side you will be painting on.
(2) The 'viewing side' - which is the side you will be looking at (or through) as you progress with your work and after it has been completed.
To render the cutting edges of the glass safe take a length of cello tape that will correspond to the length of one edge. Apply
it carefully along that length (ideally so that it is folded equally over each side of the glass).
Repeat this procedure for the other 3 glass edges. The edge of the cello tape will also help mark the outer limits of your artwork.
Clean the surface of the glass thoroughly with a glass-cleaning product. Use paper toweling or any cleaning
material that will not leave dust or threads on your painting surface.
Store the glass where it will be safe. If placed between sheets of newspaper it will be protected from scratches and dust.
Art products in liquid form that are suitable for creating outlines on glass may be readily available in some countries.
Oil-based paint, water-based acrylic and ceramic paint can also be used for this purpose. In order to create fine lines these paints
must sometimes be thinned down in order to use with a pen nib or similar line-drawing tool.
To prevent lines from being effaced too easily you can use a paint that is oil based for creating the outlines of your subject
if the paint you will be applying over the top of it (after it has properly dried) is water based. Reverse this procedure if
your outlines are created with a water-based paint.
Always use a liquid paint product that will provide the best adhesion possible to a glass surface.
Due to pen nibs clogging relatively easily, attention must be paid to cleaning the nibs regularly.
If you have a steady hand you can use a freehand method for applying outlines directly onto the surface of the glass.
Use an original subject for your painting (e.g. a drawing) and place this under the glass then copy it onto the glass surface.
Place a layer of carbon-paper on top of the glass then place your drawing on top of the carbon paper and with a pointed object
trace the subject onto the glass. Be careful not to damage your original image (the image being copied) when using a pointed object.
A tracing table can be used for creating outlines. This is a table with a sheet of clear glass inserted into the top and with
an electric light source situated beneath it. For those who frequently need to trace their work a tracing table can be very practical and useful.
You can omit outlines altogether.
APPLYING THE PAINT
Most artists have a preference for how to work when creating an artwork. Once it has been decided whether to work on a table
or use a table-easel or a standing easel, it will be necessary to view the artwork regularly from its observation side in order to see its progress.
Some artists simply take the glass in their hands and turn it around to look at it directly from the observation side. Others
prefer to use a mirror placed directly opposite their working area so that they can observe their progress while they paint.
Mixing and blending
If you are blending colors always do so on a palette or similar flat object before applying them to the glass. If colors
are not well blended or mixed the result will be a streaky appearance in the paint on the observation side of the glass.
When creating a reverse painting on glass it is important to watch out for smudges or particles of dirt or dust that may
accidentally be transferred onto unpainted areas of your artwork as you are progressing. Unless removed these may appear as flaws
that will show when viewing the artwork from its observation side. If they are also inadvertently covered with a layer of
paint removing them afterwards may become very messy and difficult. When lifting off any smudges always be careful not to
damage outlines or other areas of paint you have already applied.
Applying the paint
Once the outlines of your subject have thoroughly dried you can begin to apply paint to fill in the remainder of your
artwork. Begin with the smallest and most detailed or intricate areas first e.g. eyes, faces, small figures or objects etc - and
always keep in mind that your artwork will be observed from the opposite side to the one your painting on and that you are
painting in reverse and that therefore foregrounds precede backgrounds.
When applying the reverse painting method it is a good policy to reflect carefully on the sequence in which your painting will
develop before beginning to apply your paint. This will create a methodical attitude that is essential for this particularly interesting but also intricate painting technique.
Wishing you many pleasant hours of reverse painting!
Extract from website "A guide to reverse painting on glass" at
See reverse painting artworks at http://www.mayannemackay.com
Copyright Mayanne Mackay 2005
MORE RESOURCES updated Wed. February / 28 / 2024
Related Hobbies - Crafts articles:
How To Create A Collage
Creating a collage journal is a unique and fun way to
personalize and enrich your journal. Making a collage
journal is something that everyone can enjoy.
Making a Living Making
Soap-Questions to Ask Before You Begin
Soap making can be a wonderful hobby but if you've ever
thought of turning your hobby into a business you know how
overwhelming the idea can be. Here are some questions to
help you think through your decision:*How much of a
business do you want to be? Do you really want to this to
be a full-time job? Or would you rather just make a couple
hundred bars a year for your church fundraiser? Your answer
to this question will determine your next steps.
Decorative Metal Work
Techniques From The Early 1900s
Today's Metal Craft workers should truly appreciate the
artistic skills & techniques used exclusively by the
highly skilled metal artisans from almost one hundred years
ago. Decorative metalworking is undergoing a new renaissance
as more & more people become involved in hobby metal
Why Should You Collect
Let the cat out of the bag! True, you will know various cat
collectibles in here. No secret will be hidden, and no cat
collectibles you wouldn't know.
Gold Jewelry Hallmarking
We should be familiar with the BASIC hallmarks mentioned on
the website. It might pay you to read them again, just to
bring you up to speed and ensure you have grasped the
How I Spent My Summer
The song says it all, "Hot Fun in the Summertime." Our
summer was certainly full of fun: outdoor barbeques,
neighborhood cookouts, making ice cream, 4th of July
parades, a trip to grandpa's house, sleeping late, moving
my oldest daughter into her first apartment? It never seems
like the season is long enough to do everything we want to
Diet and Fitness - Help
from Your Hobbies
Everybody battles with their weight from time to time. It's
either too much junk food or not enough exercise.
The Most Powerful
Attribute in Antiques and Collectibles
What can increase your sales volume and make you more
productive day in and day out? You've probably heard this
three word statement that separates those who wish they
could do better, from those who really do. Knowledge is
power! This three word statement is more than just a great
Genealogy in Switzerland
- A Longenecker Family Search
I recently visited Langnau, Bern, Switzerland and spent two
days immersed in all things Langenegger. My wife and I
arrived at the Langnau rail station on June 25, 2004,
exhausted from a long flight from San Francisco.
A Scrapbook Page To
Celebrate Your Childs First Haircut
Here's a great idea for making a special 'first haircut'
scrapbook page. Between the ages of about 12 and 18 months,
a baby boy or girl may go for their first hair cut.
Green Thumb Not
Ah, the sweet smell of fresh flowers, herbs and fruit. But
what if you don't have room for a flower garden or a fruit
tree? What about if you always over or under water your
herb garden? What happens when your house just doesn't get
a lot of sun? And what about when you try and try but you
just don't have that coveted green thumb? Sigh.
Make A Stunning Dried
Dried hydrangea wreaths are so beautiful and versatile in a
home, and a lot of fun to make as well. You can either
purchase already dried hydrangea flowers from your local
craft store, or you can dry your own.
Amish Furniture for Kids
Summer is coming, and the kids will soon be out of school.
Mom's and dad's everywhere will soon here "I am board; I
don't have anything to do.
Build Your Own Bar Stool
(In An Afternoon)
Bar stools are as important as the best wine in your bar.
It is said that if you don't get a good stool to sit on,
you won't enjoy the drink.
Idle Hands Beget The
As a southern girl, sewing was a rite of passage. You never
questioned if you should learn, it was a matter of when.
The Art of Cutting and
Cropping for Your New Scrapbook
Often photographs aren't quite the right shape and size or
the photographic image is improperly centered. Having
oversized or off centered photographs creates an air of
What is a Battle Ready
You'd think that the term "battle ready sword" would be
pretty much self explanatory wouldn't you? Unfortunately,
many of the swords being described as "battle ready" are
anything but. And to quote Adrian Ko from Sword Forum
International, "a lot of these swords I wouldn't want to
take into battle even if they were strapped to a M-16.
Collectors of Depression Glass find not only its beautiful
colors fascinating, but its patterns, as well. With many
glass producers making this type of glass, as you can
imagine, many patterns resulted, creating a wide array of
pretty, practical, and inexpensive glassware affordable to
every American household in that lean era of history and
making Depression Glass one of the most collectible items
You will find scrapbook supplies for photos and pictures in
a craft store or online. Scrapbooks are used to combine
photos and pictures to make a picture story album.
Memories for Scrapbooking
Last year our family tried out a new way to preserve
Thanksgiving memories, and the result was truly a treasured
keepsake. A day or two before Thanksgiving, my daughter and
I used a turkey rubber stamp to make place cards for all of
our family members.