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Demonstration by Geoff Thorpe

See more of his work at Art Profile. Phone 01255 504783. Email geoffrey497@btinternet.com

"Knife Painting - Landscape in Oils", 19 April 2013
Geoff arrived with his wife, a few framed paintings, a few tubes of Winton (Winsor & Newton) Oils,
a palette, palette knife, easel, a 16" x 20" canvas and rolls of kitchen paper.


He had previously killed the white of his canvas by brushing on some well-thinned oil paint left over from a previous painting.

He finds that for painting with a knife, ordinary canvas is better that plain or canvas-covered board. It's important that the knife is firm enough to ping when you flick the tip - he was using a W & N No 26.

While we were finding our seats he'd squeezed some apparently random blobs of white onto the upper part of the canvas, straight from the tube. He started the demo itself by adding some much smaller (think about it) cerulean and cobalt blue ones.
Painting should be fun, whether you are working en pleine aire or in the studio from photos or sketches or, like tonight, from imagination.

"Keep it simple", Geoff said. Just the one knife and a limited palette: three blues; three yellows; three reds.

He drew a pale yellow ("primrose") horizon line with the edge of the knife and then worked as quickly as possible to spread the white and blues quite thinly over the upper part of the sky. "Buttering toast" he called it - spreading with a not-quite-flat knife and clearing any paint from the top of the knife onto the edge of the canvas for immediate reuse.
"Magnolia" (white, raw sienna and a pinhead of chrome yellow) makes a good base for a seascape sky and he used it tonight, too, spreading it up from the horizon into the blue. Then more dabs of magnolia - lots on the knife to make diagonal clouds, smaller nearer the horizon and with a touch of warmer blue. Pressure with the flat of the knife gives a very thin layer of paint and in a weak moment he even used a finger to soften an edge.

A clover-coloured mix was spread (on top of the sky) to start distant hills. Magnolia and dark grey-green areas were created with up-and-down, not horizontal, strokes, to give form and establish that the light was coming from the left.
Next we needed a "stop-end". To start it, Geoff made a very dark green of cobalt and burnt sienna. He dabbed this with the end of the blade to make the crown of a tree, showing the sunlit side with a lighter green (ultra and lemon yellow) and the tiniest touches of red.

Finally, he touched in short lengths of trunk and branches using threads of even darker grey-green and/or magnolia on the edge of the knife (he was continually wiping the knife clean).

The same colours, including the purple of the hills, created shadow (to tie the tree to the ground) and the mid-distance greens. An even brighter green (more cadmium yellow deep) lit up the distant fields.
"I think some water would be a good idea". White and cerulean to reflect the sky. Horizontal knife-strokes. Cooler green around it. Dark edges. Extra stippled white here and there (edge of knife again). Oh yes, and some fencing going down into the water.

"A second tree will help balance it". Same technique but a fraction bigger.

Foreground? Darker, but not too dark. Shadow to create a slope. Reeds not dropping through the bottom of the picture (some dark, some light, edge of the knife yet again). A few touches of red to warm the foreground as well as add interest.
And so we came to the end of an evening that reminded me of the few times
I've tried to do all-palette-knife paintings and it certainly inspired me to have another go.

Geoff said he would look at it for a few days (it will stay workable for thee or four)
before deciding what more, if anything, needs doing to it.

Thanks Geoff for an interesting, encouraging and entertaining evening.

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