Painting With the Palette Knife

My piece Sunflowers and Blue Vase (oil, 30×24) is a great example of a ‘mood’ painting executed with the palette knife. This was my first painting of sunflowers, and while I was painting it, I found out I’m allergic to them! In my determination to paint the sunflowers, I placed them outside my studio sliding door to the veranda and painted them through the glass. (I later painted many other works with sunflowers, but they were artificial!)

In experimenting with the palette knife, you can become adept at creating very fine detailed lines, such as the decoration on the oriental vase. Use any round pointed knife, load the end with paint on the under side, and drag it over the area, much as you would when using a brush.

The closeup of the painting, is a good example for learning knife control. Working with a medium or small knife with a pointed edge, I positioned the center of each sunflower. To create petals, I started at the backside of the sunflower, placed the knife loaded with paint at the point next to the center, and pulled it outwards to form each petal. If the end of each petal doesn’t look just right to you, load fresh paint on the bottom side of the knife tip, and pull it from the outside edge downwards, meeting the unfinished lower part of the petal.

Continue the same strokes around the flower. Keep applying the correct value as you finish painting each petal. I indicated seeds at the center of each sunflower by using a small round pointed knife with a dabbing action, using the tip of the knife, and placing many small color marks of light purple.

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