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Reader Knowledge Test #3


I have scumbled before. Many times.

Have you?

Using only your wits, and no online assistance, define in your own words what scumble means, or what scumbling is.

Answer posted Friday as an Update in this post.
Update: Scumble is a verb, but it refers to a painting technique that is related to glazing. Glazing itself is a process of diluting artist’s pigments or dyes with a free-flowing vehicle and binder, used to influence the hues under the glaze by forming a new transparent film of another hue on top, thus affecting light that has bounced off lower layers of pigment, passing through this new glaze layer and reaching the viewer’s eye. For example, a dry glaze of yellow followed by a new glaze of blue will create a luminous, perceived hue of green, though no green was used.

However, not all colors are fully transparent when thinned—in fact, very few actually are. Most colors have a bit of opacity to them, due to the solids used in making the pigments. White, is of course, the most obvious of the non-transparent colors, but others are nearly as opaque as white: Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Cerulean Blue, to name a few.

When an artist thins down a color that is not truly transparent and “glazes” with it, he is said to be scumbling. It has a different visual effect than glazing, because it changes the perception for a different set of reasons. Scumbling actual obscures, to some degree, one’s ability to accurately see the lower layers of color.

Scumbling is, in short, opaque glazing.


  1. Well, I am again drawing on the “knowledge” I have derived from the BBC. I learned about a paint treatment with something called “scumble glaze”. You mix paint with glaze which sort of lightens/softens the color and prolongs the drying time so that you can work with the paint. And since you are a painter, I’m guessing there’s something that translates to what YOU do as well.

  2. Totally stumped me; I couldn’t even venture a guess… so I had to look it up, thus disqualifying myself. šŸ™‚

  3. no i never have scumbled but i understand the french and the italians were very good at it. Dick Van Dyke didn’t do it either!!!

  4. Hmmm scumble eh? Didn’t they do that in West Side Story?

    This reminds me of when we played fictionary. Remember the words toby and ofay?

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