Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The palette knife

I have a good friend who is dabbling with painting and would much rather get small chunks of specific information rather than an expansive view of the whole complexity of a painting from start to finish. So in that vein I'm going to gradually tell you all about what I do.

I call myself a palette knife painter so that's seem the obvious place to start.

This is my palette knife, I have three, all are the same size. I used to only have one and I didn't know it's make or number and so when I eventually stumbled across the same ones I bought a couple more. I wrote down the make and number so that I'd never be worried about not having the right tool again. Of course I don't remember where I wrote down the information now......and there is no information on the handle.

The blade is just over 6cm long and 2cm wide at it's thickest point. I personally find it better to know one tool well rather than continually swapping sizes. Shorter blades lack flexibility and larger ones are too cumbersome. I find that I can get incredible detail by just using the tip but also can really slap the paint on when I need to.

I would advise you to try out several mid size knives before settling on the one for you. Mine is much more of a trowel than a knife, the longer bladed knife shaped knives are unwieldy in my opinion and hamper painting rather than helping.

My knife has become an extension of my right hand now, I feel totally at ease using it and know exactly how it's very gentle curved edge will perform. 

I started using the knife due to frustration at brushes becoming clogged with a muddy mix of colours and never cleaning properly from a quick wipe with a rag. The knife allows you to have much greater control over the cleanliness  of you paint but also allows you to work straight from the tube without using smelly solvents. Unfortunately you do use a lot more paint.

Mixing paint can happen both on the palette and the canvas. in order to get realistic changes in colour, especially for skies, I gradually blend away until I'm happy with the result. Other times  I will try and cleanly flick one colour on top of another without allowing them to mix at all. I always use the top edge of the knife.

I always use a tear off paper palette block, so that each painting is started with fresh colours. Some oil colours have a nasty habit of drying overnight and if you try using them the next day it will not mix or apply properly.

I naturally work from light to dark so by the end of each painting I have a a dark muddy mess on the palette and quite often break out a fresh one to come in with any highlights.

This is the finished painting from the little video.

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