Monday, June 23, 2014

The Painting Knife of the Party

"Jazzy Crow" 8x01 oil on linen (for sale at Framed Image Gallery)
Happy Summer everyone! It's going to be exciting painting week. Today I'm getting ready for a three day plein air workshop in beautiful Evergreen, Colorado later this week with with landscape artist Dave Santillanes. It's going to be a challenge but I'm looking forward to it!

In the meantime I wanted to post this new painting and offer my thoughts on painting with a knife-- one of my favorite oil painting techniques. FYI, I consider a palette knife to be a mixing knife. But really, one could mix/paint with either and I often do. And artists seem to use the terms interchangeably.

The knife has been of my favorite painting tools for years. It works wonderfully (most of the time) for adding texture or thicker impasto paint layers in the final stages. And sometimes, as with my crow painting today, I paint the entire painting from start to finish with the knife. 

Even if you prefer using a  brush (which I mostly use as well) I think having some knife skills are very useful for oil painting. Painting knives, for example, can be used to quickly rework or scrape a section. This scraping often results in exciting sections of interesting broken color effects. Note that scraping over wet paint and scraping over dry paint render different results so be sure to try to both.

My favorite painting knives have two key features: An "soft grip" rubber handle (I do use wood handle knives but not as much) and a pointed “diamond shape” tip for control. I most often use the RGM knives Regarding size—just like brushes the bigger the canvas the bigger the knife size.

There are several oil painting books that feature knife painting as a key approach if you want to explore this technique: Susan Sarback's Capturing Radiant Color in Oil, Lois Griffel's Painting the Impressionist Landscape, and How to See Color and Paint It by Arthur Stern--which has fantastic painting exercises. 

Thanks for stopping by! Finally, I’m happy to share that this painting (along with 3 others) will be featured in an upcoming show in Denver at Framed Image Gallery. For more info, please visit my Events Page on my website.

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