If you are painter who uses only a palette knife, then my question is a mute one for you. However, for the majority of us, the palette knife is used as an accessory to our brushes. Myself, I split my brush and knife time about 50-50. My favorite use of the palette knife is mixing my colors because it keeps my colors clean.
In the spirit of experimentation and “Painting Outside of the Box,” as discussed in an earlier blog post, I decided to paint an entire painting with just a palette knife – no cheating allowed – using thick globs of paint. In addition, I chose a subject that I haven’t painted in years – a bouquet of flowers. Because I do like to push my comfort zone, I chose to have two challenges for this exercise.
Inspired by a friend’s bouquet of flowers from her garden….
…I began slapping painting around. Since I had never painted flowers with a palette knife, it felt awkward and I also wasn’t real confident of my strategy. For example, do I start with the background or the flowers or go back and forth? Indecision led me to do the latter as you can see below.
By the way, the two words that kept running through my head while painting were “joy” and “abundance.” I wanted that feeling to show up in this floral painting.
I was pleasantly surprised with the results that you see above. Despite the temptation, on several occasions, I did not use a brush. However, because the surface of this 20×20 panel was highly textured with gesso, I did need to use my pinky to smudge in color where the paint just wouldn’t fill in the crevices and left white specks.
After a couple of days of studying the painting, I realized that the middle left section of the bouquet proved that I am right handed! Notice how all of the leaves are going in one direction from right to left. LOL! I had to laugh. And, the leaves were too close in size and shape. Sigh….
Also, I needed to beef up my darks in the area where the flowers bunch together, to help keep the bouquet feel cohesive. The dark purple flower on the left was too dark, so I decreased the value of it and increased the values in the background around it.
It was a delight to discover that I can still paint flowers, as well as with a palette knife. One of my favorite parts of painting them, was combining several related colors within a flower. With the palette knife I could pick up 2-3 colors in one swoop. Here is an up close view.
The finished 20×20 on panel oil painting is below. It’s title is “Abundance of Joy.”
How did I do for the first time out of the gate? Are you ready to try a new painting technique? I highly recommend it.
One final note: I doubt that I will become a floral painter. However, I do believe this exploration will benefit my current need to push my development as a painter. I am not sure what my next challenge will be. Perhaps a portrait, since I have never painted one before. What do you think/recommend?
If you would like to learn more about my approach to mixing color, visit my online color course available via Craftsy.com.
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