Definition of scumble in English:



  • 1Modify (a painting or colour) by applying a very thin coat of opaque paint to give a softer or duller effect.

    ‘the area surrounding the main figures will be scumbled’
    • ‘The sense of tragedy, however, was oddly counteracted by the sweet colors that had been dripped and scumbled to cover the figures from head to bristle.’
    • ‘In another large work, soft-edged horizontal lines suggest a stack of stormy sunsets, with orange, rose and yellow scumbled between brown or black, in ominous bands.’
    • ‘It is carefully and conscientiously applied: slathered, scumbled, scraped, drawn.’
    • ‘Plum achieves its fruitlike hue with near-invisible scumbling in light and dark shades of purple; at bottom and midsection are two horizontal stripes of meanest pink.’
    • ‘In Cyclop, a vertical canvas nearly 8 feet high, a lower section washed and scumbled in earthy pigments is topped by a configuration of wide white strokes circling a blue-black core.’
    • ‘Brogger seems intrigued by the processes of picture-building as he pours, drips, squeezes and scumbles pigment upon the light brown supports in several of the works.’
    • ‘In her previous show at this gallery, Yeardley Leonard exhibited a number of large horizontal paintings divided by lateral, multicolored bands of scumbled paint.’
    • ‘Two large 1957 canvases, All Alone and Body and Soul, each about 3 by 5 feet, are playful images with pink scumbled lines activating the rich off-white, pale blue, brown and gray impasto at the center of the canvases.’
    • ‘I'm shivering, either from excitement or from rain scumbling across my slicker.’
    • ‘In his hands, thread, string and wool are used as expressively as the boldly poured and scumbled paint.’
    • ‘The exhibition offers a comprehensive inventory of application processes in both acrylic and oil - brushing, spreading, smearing, scumbling, scraping, daubing, combing, pouring, spraying.’
    • ‘His surfaces are extravagantly scumbled and full of ragged pentimenti; the boats look like they are embedded in the water rather than floating on it.’
    • ‘In Golden Bird House, a similarly disconcerting picture, scumbled ocher brushstrokes fill the sky behind a white turretlike construction resting atop a pole.’
    • ‘And Scully's scumbled paint handling, rapid overpainting that blurs edges and suggests that we can see into layers of paint, moves us still further away from the stasis of perfect geometry.’
    • ‘Staccato stabs of dry-brushed whites over pale, scumbled colors show the distinctive locale, the early light and the pale, prickly thickets of desert thornbush.’
    • ‘Her variegated surfaces may be opaque or layered as transparent washes, glazed or scraped, scumbled, wiped down or sanded.’
    • ‘On the scumbled, thickly painted surface of Voice III (1999-2000, shown at DC Moore) is the image of a woman, mouth open as if to sing or to accept a drink.’
    • ‘In each, Krahenbuhl runs a dazzling gamut of painterly techniques: glazing, impasto, scumbling, decalcomania, fluid linear strokes and so on.’
    • ‘The grounds below the stripes are not painted a single, neutral hue, but are worked and layered to produce scumbled textures as well as a sense of substance and depth.’
    • ‘Uncertainty of finish dominates all of her larger works, which feature drawn forms that have been rubbed out or partially scumbled over.’
    1. 1.1 Modify (a drawing) with light shading in pencil or charcoal to give a softer effect.
      • ‘Although the objects were mostly slick and smooth, most chose the cold-press so they could scumble the color over the toothy surface with a beveled pencil.’
      • ‘His obituarist in the Gentleman's Magazine said that ‘the picture may almost be mistaken for the original: but closely inspected we find scumbling scratches that have no appearance of eyebrows or nostrils.’’
      • ‘There is scumbling with charcoal at the bottom and at the top, some of it painted over with white.’


  • 1A thin, opaque coat of paint or layer of shading applied to give a softer or duller effect.

    • ‘Cover this with a tinted glaze - either a scumble glaze tinted with artists' oil colours or a modern oil-based tinted varnish thinned with white spirits.’
    • ‘Each is divided in half and painted in complementary blue/green and orange/yellow scumbles.’
    • ‘Gay Madness, ca. 1933, for example, explodes with Dionysian abandon, its flowers (if that's what they are) nearly pure color, with great swabs and scumbles radiating out from them.’
    • ‘When it's had time to dry off I shall apply a little scumble here and a little lining there, and sign it.’
    • ‘By contrast, a rough scumble delineates the areas of textile left showing through them.’
    1. 1.1 The effect produced by scumbling.
      • ‘Had these paintings hung eight feet above the floor, as proposed by the committee, their delicate colors, rich scumbles of light opaque color over dark, and wonderful transparent glazes would have been completely lost to the public.’
      • ‘The largest, the 48-by-32-inch Cherry, possesses a mellowing pink scumble over a pale ground.’


Late 17th century (as a verb): perhaps a frequentative of the verb scum.