There are very good reasons why artists do this.  First lets define ‘thin’ and ‘fat’

Thin – meaning that the paint is put on the canvas thinly.  This may mean that you have mixed a quantity of medium with it to thin it or it may be that you have simply ‘scrubbed’ it onto the surface so that is applied very thinly.

Fat – meaning paint that is ‘Impasto’ i.e., straight out of the tube and applied in bolder thicker chunks.

Why thin first?
I have two very good reasons that I can think of instantly, and other lesser reasons.

  1. If you lay down a ‘fat’ paint area you are limited to what you can do over the top of it.  Try painting fat on fat and you will get mud when painting wet on to wet paint.
  1. By putting down a ‘thin’ area you are preparing the area for an opportunity to contrast with fat painted details on top.  The more sedate thin paint adds weight to the “Shout at you “ fat paint.

 Generally you should place early details on thinly and progressively get fatter and fatter as you progress, finishing off with bold highlights that look like they were thrown on, but are not.

In my next tip I will talk about ‘Application – Looks like it is thrown on’.

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