Walk With Me

Right now with all the mess going on, I know you and I won’t be walking together any time soon. And, truth be told, I kind of prefer walking by myself. If I am by myself, I don’t have to make polite conversation, talk (or hear) about problems, or have anyone roll their eyes when I have to stop (for the umpteenth time) to look at something we saw earlier in another spot. Look! Another rabbit, squirrel, bird, flower, butterfly, cloud formation, tree shape. The list goes on… and on… and on.

oil and cold wax painting

Note this: if you are the same way on a walk, we would get along fabulously (and probably be taking a lot of photos).

However, if we can’t walk together physically, we can at least walk together in spirit. Fact is, sadly, I do most of my walking this way now. No, not by some meditative mind thing. I do my in spirit walking through photos. Either my own or those so graciously shared by others. I love seeing where people have been and am very glad they are willing to share their adventures so I can come along.

This is why I now so enjoy painting outdoor scenes, even if it’s from a photo (with permission of course if it’s not mine). It doesn’t have to be a live outdoor painting experience (i.e. plein air) for me to feel it. And truth be told, I don’t like to sweat, get sunburned, fight off bugs, or lug supplies around. Also, at my age, the thought of not being close to a bathroom is a big NO NO. (Just for that, I have a huge amount of respect for plein air painters. They must have really healthy bladders.)

Anyway… at my age, I have had enough life experiences to be able to look at a photo and visualize being there, walking there, seeing the colors in the tree line or on the side of the hill. I can feel the breeze that might be blowing, feel the heat of the sun or the cool of the shade, smell the fragrances of what’s growing, hear what sounds might be there. I can put myself into the scene I am painting. I am spiritually there because at some point in life, I was physically in a scene pretty much like it.

Hopefully, if I can capture the feeling of being there, the viewer will feel they are there too. Isn’t that’s what all artists hope for? A connection with their viewer?

So, walk with me. I hope you enjoy the stroll.

I Love Palette Knives

I think that I shall never see,
A painting tool so right for me.

Though people often use the term palette knife when referring to any type of metal blade used for painting, there is a difference between a true palette knife and a painting knife (yep, I got that right off the internet). However, I’ll let you do the research if you’re interested. It’s really not that important. They can all be used to paint with (even the cheap plastic ones, if you’re on a budget).

The Love Affair Begins

Less than a year ago, I rarely used palette knives. I was mainly a brush painter. Then I met cold wax. Cold wax set me up with palette knives. At first we just played around and watched a lot of videos. I had no idea how strong the attraction would be. I just couldn’t stay away. I had to know more. I had to be with them… use them.

Now, palette knives are now my first choice when making art and are perfect for my preferred method/style of painting (whether using oils or acrylics). It’s fascinating to see what can be done with palette knives and different mediums. The layering, the scraping, the marks they can make. It’s quite exciting. I LOVE my palette knives.

Other reasons I love them are: they are not expensive, versatile, can take a lot of abuse, and are easy to clean. You can paint big and bold, or small and precise. (It just takes practice.) They aren’t limited to the traditional oils and acrylics either. I’ve seen them used by a watercolor artist. Yes, watercolors. Who knew? Someone experimented and it worked.

Where Did they Come From?

I’ve often wondered how this painting tool came into existence. I mean, did someone notice a bricklayer with a trowel and think “hey, I can slap a LOT of paint on a canvas with one of those!”

I don’t know.

I do know that palette knives can be traced back to the 17th century and were most likely first used to mix paint on the… tadaa.. palette. (Bet you saw that coming!) They were also used to scrape paint off of the canvas. (Made a mess? Using Oils? Still wet? Scrape it off!) By the 18th century, the palette knife was a popular tool with artists and they were widely used. Somewhere along the way, this handy dandy tool went from being a tool used just to mix or scrape off paint to being refined into a tool of many shapes and sizes for creating a painting. Just like brushes.

Want a Storage Tip?

My knives.

Go to someplace like Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Harbor Freight and look for a magnetic strip used for holding small tools. Attach it within reach of your painting area. The metal blades of the palette knives will attach to the strip. Gets them up and out of the way, yet keeps them close for when you need one.

Did I say I love them?

Evolution of an Unplanned Painting

Plan? What Plan?

Most of the artists I know start with a plan. They sketch out what they intend to paint, either from real life, a photo, or a design they come up with. It’s probably the smarter thing to do; however, that’s not usually how it works for me. I tend to just “wing it”. I find I get a lot more enjoyment out of a session if I just slap down some marks and colors, then step back and just look at it for a few minutes. Because within those few minutes, I start seeing things and what is on the canvas starts to “talk to me” (not literally, I’m not hearing things… most of the time… that would be creepy).

I Start With Colors

I mixed up a palette of blues and lavenders, then threw in some white and black. After several minutes of moving colors around, shapes started to form. I backed up and stared at it as I began to see either a treeline or rocks and what might be a horse in the foreground of the painting. Yay! A start!

I Look At Shapes

As you can see, the black area did not want to be a treeline. It wanted to be rocks and cliffs. (Okay, my brain wanted it to be rocks and cliffs.) So, I added oranges and browns to my color palette and worked on the main shapes. The horse shape is still there since I think I can work with that.

Now, however, the horse bolted and two cows showed up. Again, I am letting the scene evolve as I play with it. By this point, I have a good idea where I’m going to wind up. Some kind of a Southwest scene. Memories of Arizona now start running through my head.

Get Along Little Doggies

The cows drove me nuts. On this particular day, I could not get the illusion of bovines on my canvas. So off they went to graze somewhere else. The evolution of this unplanned painting is almost complete. I just need to work a bit on the foreground and keep the animals corralled.

The Final Painting?

I’d like to say this is where I wound up, but as usual, after letting it sit for a week I did come back and do a little more touching up where I felt it needed it. I’d show you, but the changes aren’t that much.

To end with an update… the painting now has a mat and is framed. For this one, the evolution is complete.