I tried to make mental notes of the colors I needed when I sketched this in plein air then painted it at home. The color looks good in the photo for the sea oats but the background isn’t showing up green enough and there’s a lighter area showing on the right because of a glare.
For the background I wanted to give a color and texture of pine needles. For the sea oats I wanted to make a fuzzy texture .
It seemed like the painting went fast on this project. I worked on it for around 5 hours, which isn’t really that fast, just fast for me, because I often have 30 or 40 hours in a painting. So I like the palette knife for that. It’s not easier than painting with a brush, just different. This was a simple experiment.
The palette knife makes the project faster because I painted right on top of my sketch. Usually I redraw my sketch and then redraw it again on the canvas. This way I saved a lot of time because I didn’t prime a canvas which is a multi step process with sanding the canvas, painting gesso on it and sanding it again then tinting the canvas. That part needs to be spread out over two days or more. This way I could jump right into painting.
It’s nice not to have to clean the brushes. That is a job.
Paper is working out to be more conservative than canvases, So the palette knife is practical on a lot of different levels.
I am using more paint than I use normally. That’s one drawback to the palette knife.
The palette knife is fun, though, so I’ll do more.
I knew my lines would get all crooked painting with the palette knife. I tried to keep them as straight as I could but when you try to paint on top of lumpy paint from the previous palette knife glaze, you just have to stop worrying about straightness at some point.
It probably doesn’t matter if my perspective is off either. I don’t know if this is some kind of abstract or any kind of realism or what it is if it fits in some style of painting. The palette knife gives it a whole different look than I’d have got with brushes. To me it’s a wavy feel.
I don’t know if this shot is giving you all the grays in the dark. I used warm and cool grays on top of warm grays on top of cool grays. Some of the lower layers show through and the viewer’s naked eye can mix the tints and shades of gray to see a gray that’s alive and moving, not a dead gray.
I considered not painting the railings but then I decided the battery needed them. I knew they would be rough going on top of all those lumpy layers but I kind of got them in. I’m glad I gave it a shot.
This is the grass and path. It was fun glomming the paint on real thick with my palette knife. I mixed the colors of paint on my palette and only mixed them a little on the canvas with the knife and added some texture.
This shows you how out of control my lines got and some texture in the background, that might or might not be a ghost.
This is a close up of the sky for my painting of the battery De Russy. I was putting it off because I couldn’t decide how to paint the sky then we had a whole week of cloudy rainy weather and I had fun goofing around doing experimental palette knife paintings. One thing I decided was that I didn’t want hard edges on my clouds. I wanted to try to paint the thin wispy clouds we often have around here, maybe get some haze into the sky.
My coat of blue paint was dry. I decided to wing it at home with no good sky to copy because it’s raining again. Tomorrow the sun will come out but it will be windy so I still can’t paint at the battery because it’s too hard to control a large canvas in the wind. It’s like wrestling with a sail.
First I put a coat of Maroget medium on top of the blue then I used my palette knife to scrape a real runny thin glaze of white all over the sky leaving a couple holes where the blue shows through. Then I tried lifting off some excess paint so I could make the clouds thinner but the paper towels I used to blot up the paint left a dotty pattern in the sky, so I used the paper towels to rough up the dot pattern a little.
I thought about adding more white or maybe some light gray. I don’t know, maybe I should leave well enough alone.
This is the first coat of paint on top of my underpainting. The underpainting of the battery was a wash of cool grays that I painted with a brush. This layer is warm grays that I painted with a palette knife. I need to go over the whole thing again and make adjustments. I’m excited to see my progress so far. The next step is to go over the sky again. I’d like to make some clouds.
This is what the battery looks like to my camera. Yesterday when I left home the sun was coming out but by the time I got to the fort it was foggy. I worked on my painting a little while anyway and took this photo so you can compare my perspective drawn with my naked eye to the camera’s perspective.
This lighthouse is at Ft. Monroe. It was built in 1802. It’s still operational and automated since 1970 something. They called it Old Point Comfort.
This is the moat around the fort. There are some pretty views of it and I might try to do a painting of it eventually.
This is the way into the fort. I can get my car through with just inches to spare.
When I went back to the battery yesterday I meant to take a ruler and correct my lines but I forgot it, so I just thought, hell, I’ll try to paint it from what I got transferred. So much for perfectionism. I strive for it but will never achieve it and I don’t worry about it too much. This will come out looking more like my interpretation of the battery than any photo realism.
The underpainting is in the complimentary colors of the ones I’ll paint on top of this. The battery is a warm gray because it’s concrete and weathered, so I painted it with cool grays first. The sky is a light tint of burnt umber because that’s a warm color. Now when I paint blue on top of this the blue will look brighter. The ground is a slightly darker tint of burnt umber because that’s what I saw under the grass. Sand.
If you want to paint with grays you need a good black to start. An equal amount of burnt umber and ultramarine blue make the best black. You’re mixing the darkest warm color paint with the darkest cool color and your black isn’t a dead black. Then you can mix white in for grays and make neutral grays or you can add any other color you want to and your grays will have some life. If you layer the grays warm then cool or cool to warm you’re also layering tints of complimentary colors which makes the grays look kind of pearly. The art viewer might not realize why the colors are pearly they just won’t get tired of looking at it as soon as they would if you only used flat grays. It makes the grays vibrate visually on a very subtle level that film can’t capture and computers can’t show you either.
Next step. I can do the sky at home. I’ll go back to mix colors for the grass next week. If I get my grays and greens mixed in plein air and start putting the colors in with my palette knife in plein air I’ll be able to see if it’s working out and might be able to work on it at home next week.
I transfered those old sketches to this larger paper and made some corrections but I can see it’s not still not right, better, but not good enough. When I transfer this to a canvas and go back I’ll make more corrections and it will be ok the next time.
Perspective ain’t easy. I’m eyeballing it and drawing freehand. It’s a challenge so if I keep at it my drawing will improve for other subjects too.
I’m looking forward to painting it with a palette knife. If I told you this joint vibrates with its own weird frequency, I hope you know what I mean. I don’t believe in ghosts so that might be why I never saw one, and I spent a couple years practicing figure drawing in Hollywood Cemetery around 15 years ago. I drew the sad stone angels. They make great subjects because they never move and they’re free any time you want to sketch them. Hollywood Cemetery had the vibe of a sanctuary to me.
I felt safe at Fort Monroe the past few times I went there even though there’s a two lane street between me and the battery. There’s not much traffic. I saw a ton of cops over there too so they may be making me feel safer. I was not a person of interest this time. I parked in the real public lot across the street instead of taking an illegal spot next to where I was standing.
Every time I go out on the highway lately traffic is flying!
This is the last time I’ll use my sketches of the butterfly ginger for the palette knife painting. The next thing I’d like to try it on is the spooky battery at Ft. Monroe which I started sketching a couple years ago and put on hold on account of the weird vibes I picked up at the fort. I want to try again to finish a painting of the battery which might or might not be haunted.
Since the palette knife makes it comes out all wavy I think it might give that big imposing scary piece of architecture a more moody look. It will be all different shades of gray, some warm grays and some cool grays.
I want to try making different textures with the palette knife. For the background on this painting I used the short flat edge of the odd shaped palette knife to scrape two shades of greenish gray in a thin layer with some peaks of the dark gray tint of the canvas showing through.
First I squirted a blob of Viridian green on my palette. It’s dark. I added terpenoid a few drops at a time until the paint was runny. I thought my big blob of paint would be enough to paint these dark green areas but I misjudged the amount of paint I needed and had to use more.
When I mixed my lighter greens I used big blobs of paint and still didn’t have enough mixed up. When mixing colors it’s better to have too much paint mixed that to not have enough and I usually mix the right amount for what I want to paint with only a small bit left over but with the palette knife it’s harder to estimate.
The last color I used was white and I put a huge blob of it on my palette then added so much more paint that I thought it looked like I’d be wasting paint but it was exactly the right amount to finish the flowers.
I did the whole thing with palette knives and split it up over two different days letting the gray green background and the light gray of the flowers dry overnight. The paint was still wet the next day but only slightly dried which helped my brighter greens and white from mixing in as much. So I did layers but I don’t know if that’s how other artists do a palette knife painting.
It was fun and I’ll do another one.
The good thing about a palette knife painting is that you don’t have to clean brushes. The bad thing is that this will take months to dry. I can put it in my outside closet where it will be out of danger.
The dark green paint was soupy and it ran off my palette knife nicely. I thinned it with terpenoid.
The white paint was like soft icing.
The palette knife is harder to control than a paint brush. You have to be careful how you scrape up the paint off the palette so it’s on the knife in a good position to make a blob where you want the blob. Paint goes where you don’t want it to go. Most of the time I just let it there but a couple times I scraped up a big blob that fell in a bad place.
Intuitive art is seamlessly created. It begins with a moment of inception, when something is seen, as if for the very first time and my mind takes a snapshot. It could be as simple as a flight of stairs that lead into an old brick building, or looking at an ice cream truck. Ordinary, every […]
Man this new block editor is driving me nuts. Blocks show up on top of my text and I don’t know how to make them go away. If anything shows up on the post, I don’t care.
This is my second dancer. I’ll transfer this and the first one to a larger paper later. I might draw the dancers from the other side or I might draw a flower that’s blooming and I liked it last year. The finished dancer painting won’t happen for a while. I haven’t made a definite plan yet, like which medium to use. And there’s another drawing I started a couple years ago at Fort Monroe that I’d really like to finish if I can get through that tunnel traffic. If I run into a traffic jam I give up. I’ll go somewhere else. The dancers would be best completed in the winter so my easel isn’t blocking the path. I can hold this size sketchbook in my one hand and draw with the other but a large piece of paper would need my drawing board and easel.
That’s only one decision out of hundreds. I’m also thinking of the background. My models are on a pedestal so they’re no where near the ground. If I draw them on the garden path will it look like they’re floating? I guess it will if I don’t connect the figures to their shadows. It seems to me like their breasts defy gravity pointing to the sky like that. I didn’t make the sculptures. I just draw them as I see them. hahaha They could be nymphs. I guess nymphs could float off the ground. I might go with the antigravity idea.