Have you wondered how to get the effect of people walking on a foggy beach — some near and some farther away? Or how to show the illusion of gauze curtains?


This illusion is called the White Veil Effect. How to paint these may be the opposite of what you would think.

adventuress5To show you I chose as my “victim”  a rather wishy-washy harbor scene with my grandson and me in my rowboat.

I  drew the curtains onto this painting. Where did I paint? In between — trying to match the hues and making the original painting appear to be behind the curtains.  To show the folds, some of the curtains have a 1/2 amount of the colors in used in the middle.

Fun?  Before you try it on a painting, let’s try it first with a box, a tissue and a gauze scarf.

In the first, you see my drawing — two boxes, one with a neutral background and a white tissue, the second with a soft lavender tissue and no background color (I forced the photo above to make the pencil lines show up so it is darker than the following ones).  Where would you paint next? Well, before we go on, why don’t you draw a box and some tissue and let’s do it together.

Paint a light blue over the entire box, including the parts of the tissue or scarf that are blocking the box. In my example  there is a section that is implying the tissue/scarf is folded and has enough density to block the color of the box.
Dry it.


When the color is dry, glaze all of the box with the same color as before.  How much stronger (more pigment) this is compared to the first glaze tells us the density of the tissue.  If this glaze is way stronger, the tissue will appear more opaque than if it is not so strong (has more water in relation to the amount of pigment).

Hint: make up a puddle of the color before you start glazing.  You don’t want to have to mix halfway through the glaze.

Once The second glaze is dry, you take the same color (same puddle?) and glaze it on the 2 sides of the box that are not in the strongest light, skipping the tissue.

When that is dry, use the same hue but add a little dark.  Here I added a little quinacridone violet and pthalo green to blacken my blue. Glaze the shadow side of the box.  In the top one I tried a little cast shadow of the box and behind the tissue but I decided that, without looking at the object it wasn’t that wise to make up the shadow shape.

Was that fun?   Now, go and find a wimpy painting and see if you can perk it up by creating the illusion of gauze curtains.  I am sure that now you can figure out how to show  the further figures on the beach.  And someone will ask you, “What did you paint over them to make them appear lighter.”  You can smile and say, “Trade secrets.”

© 2010 Caroline Buchanan