Three Palms for Gail • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls
Scumbling (sounds like stumbling, but with a "k" sound) is, for me, one of the most useful techniques an artist can learn. I've used it in several places throughout the painting above. It's a particular kind of brushwork – using it, you can create wonderfully magical effects. To scumble, you drag a dry brush lightly loaded with paint across another color.
Detail, Three Palms for Gail • © 2011 Karen Lynn Ingalls
When might you use it? Anytime you want a transitional area between colors (in portraits, in landscape paintings, in painting skies, for example). Above, it not only helped create an atmospheric effect in the skies and distant mountains, but it also added a kind of laciness to the palm fronds. Scumbling is a way of blending color that allows the viewer to blend the colors with their eyes....
Want to learn more? Here are two earlier posts that discuss it thoroughly:
Scumbling shows how scumbling was used by Rembrandt and Modigliani in portraits.
Scumbling video lesson with Jan Blencowe links to a demonstration of the scumbling technique that Blencowe uses to create a beautifully atmospheric sky.