oil painting » Painting techniques » Sfumato Painting


Sfumato Techniques

Sfumato is a term coined by Leonardo da Vinci to refer to a painting technique which overlays translucent layers of color to create perceptions of depth, volume and form. In particular, it refers to the blending of colors or tones, so subtly that there is no perceptible transition.

In Italian sfumato means "blended" with connotations of "smoky" and is derived from the Italian word fumo meaning 'smoke'. Leonardo described sfumato as 'without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke'. Sfumato is a painting technique in which the colors blend softly into each other, pretty than objects or shapes having sharp outlines or hard edges. The Italian word sfumato, means shaded off and comes from the Italian word fumo, which means "smoke". No surprises then that it's been referred to as a smoky consequence.

Techniques :

Painting in very thin layers of glazes over a solid under painting is the most successful way to create a smoky illusion. Glazes refer to oil paint that has been thinned down to a watery consistency. This can be achieved with a number of lessening vehicles, though linseed oil works very well. After the underneath painting is completely dry, the first layer of glaze is added and allowed to also completely dry prior to adding additional glazes. Sfumato was an main pillar of the Renaissance (14th-17th centuries) painting. With no color limits, the style extends a subtle moderation to a picture. Right brush strokes, matched with balanced lighting results, are its fundamentals. The famous Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) first used the term 'sfumato,' derived from the Italian word 'sfumare,' meaning to disappear or to fade out.


Monalisa The sleep of the Infant jesus

The Artist and the Artworks :

The most famous and the strongest example of sfumato is da Vinci's Mona Lisa (1503-06). Her mysterious smile, gaze, the dream-like rocky backdrop, including her identity have been given an edge with the style. For the painting, the artist preferred unifying mid-tones, especially the blues, greens, and earths. He avoided shining colors, which could break the color harmony. The mid-tones created, imparted a subdued flavor to the picture. Sfumato introduces further subtlety to the paint impression and the illumination of the portrait. With the knowledgeable technicality behind, Mona Lisa smiles at the viewer with her hands folded serenely on a ledge in her front

One of the best examples of a sfumato painting is the Mona Lisa