Palette Knife Painting and Workshops
What a wonderful creative combination: the natural environment rocky escarpments and brilliant skies! Add the magical Palette Knife PK1008 and its a perfect recipe for fun.
What a wonderful creative combination: the natural environment rocky escarpments and brilliant skies! Add the magical Palette Knife PK1008 and its a perfect recipe for fun.
One way, or in another. In some measure. It doesn’t have to be “Art” nor music, nor even in the sciences.
Maybe you are one of the generous ones, the kind and thoughtful ones. Sharing your enthusiasm and your knowledge freely.
That. Is a special kind of magic. People don’t forget it. I certainly don’t.
It really doesn’t matter what your job title is, your career, vocation, etc. A convenience store clerk, recently showed me…. how skilful he was at making magic. Just by being himself. Being generous. When he did not have to be.
On the Art side of things, there is a kind of magic I find easy when I teach or coach a group of new artists. The kind of magic, that illustrates for them a variety of pathways and perspectives on how to see what they’ve never truly seen before.
“Is Graffiti, art?” was one question for the group. At first, many didn’t see the art in any graffiti. But, some graffiti is so breathtaking, it defies any to not call it Art.
I also am inspired when finally, I have been able to get an individual to feel, the art. Wow. Yes. Magical indeed the sharing of methods, techniques, thoughts, of ways how they can Feel it, and become aware of things they’d never felt, before. I do find it easy. Fun. Inspiring. Challenging. Magical.
Yes. I guess that is a type of magic that I do.
Making Magic applies to the practical side of creativity, the nuts and bolts ie the tools and materials, as well as the philosophical side.
There is a Magical tool I love.
It is the PK 1008. A very sensitive, versatile palette knife that responds perfectly. Fluidly. There is no stiff rigidity of stroke inherent to this palette knife whatsoever. It is far too sensitive for that!
The Mountain Landscape is a Palette Knife painting, a bit wild and rebellious…. that I’ve mounted on my last sheet of handmade Indian Village paper.
I pre painted this in Indanthrone with Indigo for a velvety blue black to contrast my image. It worked.
With the PK 1008 the sharp angle and width allow for a myriad of very expressive movements and technical applications.
Double or triple loading the knife with a few watercolors, then boldly …. sliding it across the predampened paper – oh, my. That absolutely creates Magic!
Making Magic with the Palette Knife is most likely my top favourite technique in creating art. Nothing else quite works outs like it does. Full of unexpected delights and color melting together. Beautiful and strange pairings that should not work, but Do.
And even when the image isn’t doing so well in ‘your’ intended direction; turn it around. Maybe that palette knife, does have some mysterious magic in it after all. Many times, not only my work, but students’ as well, when reassessed in the upside down mode – it is stunningly Perfect! Amazing.
My Tips for those wanting to use a palette knife with Watercolors, ie not impasto style, are as follows:
Be Bold! Decisive. No fiddling, nagging, etc. Speak UP. Say it like you mean it, then leave it be.
Review your Art Basics quickly. Tonal Values, Edges, Aerial Perspective, Focal Point, Details/contrasts. Then try to stick to most, of those.
Most Importantly, use your artistic drive to make the audience FEEL Something! Don’t be content with recording the facts, the details, the accuracies.
Go MAKE MAGIC!
What is it ‘to create?’
Why might this interpretive definition be important to you?
While I’m specifically writing this article for the current participants of my courses in Perth, I feel it is relevant for many others who’d like to be encouraged, as they create.
We do not, need to be painters, to be considered creators of art.
If you make things, build things, develop things – you are a creator.
We have been led, to believe only a select rare few, are artists. Are deserving to be named art creators. Not so. We are all, born to create. In some form.
Art, takes an infinity of forms: Music, photography, dance, building & bridge design, digital apps., surgery, interior design, fashion design, coding, cooking, sculpture, writing, martial arts…. We can make anything an ‘art form’ if that is our desire.
To take something to an ‘art form,’ we must truly love the subject.
Become partners with it. At ease and in tune with how it looks, moves, feels, sounds, responds. The beginning of artistry is love, time, connectedness.
Whether we’re painters, teachers, computer app designers, composers, surgeons, city planners – we all can enhance our work when we “feel” the situation, the surroundings, immersing ourselves in the subject. Being connected.
Its this way we can best share the excellence of creation we have envisioned with the world.
We use, channel, harness all of our senses in order to create the art.
But, we must do so opened up. All In.
To be All In, means you’ve put everything on the line.
You are Vulnerable.
Stripped down to your core. And must engage the process with sensitivity, with feeling. Being attuned to, in time with our chosen partner, i.e. subject.
What is your subject – Is it the Mountain? The ocean? The forest? The dancers at the ballet? The little rose bush, that the frost of autumn has aged overnight?
Those cool professional walls, barriers, and that distance put into place to keep us “safe” and protected from feeling hurt, or embarrassed?
They don’t help us.
What they do is negate the power of creation we could have infused our art with.
Why do we copy?
Replicate Joe Smith’s painting? What ‘risk’ are we taking in doing that? If it is mocked and we are embarrassed, we can always say, “Oh well, I only copied Joe. Its not mine. Not really.” And, no. It’s not.
When we open up, we then are so vulnerable. And this is the scary thing.
It is an uncertain thing.
We do not like the fact that we don’t know for certain if our creation, will work or not.
IF, it will be ok. Be ‘good enough.’ Or not.
To have family, a friend, a mentor … “approve.”
Get “likes” or not. Get followers or not.
Life is way too short, for us to make those approvals of monumental significance.
Your own opinion, that’s the one that is of monumental significance.
And, yes. It is a struggle.
Every time we pick up the pen, the brush, the mouse, the knife, we hear the voice in our head tell us to do it better this time.
(Silence that voice each time. It knows nothing. Nothing…. of relevance to the act of creation.)
It is the Uncertainty,of not getting it right, that stops us. It is what blocks us, chains us, ties our hands from trying.
It is the Uncertainly that stops us from being ‘ALL In.’ Prevents us from giving it every thing we have to give.
But if we never try, never summon the courage, (in some cases we must invent it if that is what is required) then the world, misses out on what we alone have to give.
Yes. We will stumble.
We will fall to our knees.
We will fail.
Its ok. I repeat, it is ok that we make mistakes, stumble, fail.
*side note, if you are a bridge engineer, aircraft mechanic, heart surgeon, airport traffic controller…. its ok, if you have a little higher standards than what I’ve just mentioned. In fact, thanking you in advance for it. cheers!
For too long we have all been told, trained and conditioned, to believe in the god of perfection.
“Get It Right.”
No errors. No flaws.
No visible signs of cracks, age, wear or tear.
In other words, absolutely no signs that we are, after all, Human.
Because, being human is the greatest asset we have. Flaws and all.
I’m currently mentoring privately a beautiful person, with acrylics. We are working on a helpful approach to lessen the fear of mistakes, flaws. We’re developing a program with Multiple creative resolution methods, imaginative solutions, thinking outside the box.
Addressing – Society’s obsession with imperfections.
It is a challenge to go against our training. But, we can do it. We simply repeat, the acts of creation we desire. Over and over, and over.
In the mentoring sessions, we are repurposing used acrylic canvases. They already have colors and textures on them, in abundance. But, they were not quite working.
The next step is to brush over, in selected areas large swaths of contrasting paint.
We used White. Brilliant! This creates a lovely and lively sensation of vibration and contrast. The underlying base comes through in places with the white, skimming along the surface to create fascinating patterns suggesting of bark, trees, foliage shapes.
This Technique clearly demonstrates that the underlying “Imperfect” canvas, with its scars, its hard edges, its yucky bits…. actually was the perfect substrata for the project.
I like how this art creation process can also be interpreted through the lens of life as well.
I am in fact, expressing in paint, my world. Not yours. Not Joe’s. Mine. This is a very important distinction artists, creators need to make.
When I create a painting, or photographic art image, I am primarily attempting to convey the dialogue. In other words, the dialogue that is going on between the subject and myself.
That simply can not occur if I refuse to spend alone time with it.
If I treat it callously, abruptly, with little regard, and simply want to “use it” to make a pretty little picture to boost my ego – then, no, I can’t expect its true beauty to shine through.
Its more effective to become friends with the subject.
To learn about it. To immerse oneself into its world.
Then…. Maybe I can create art that has a beautiful life energy within it.
What I hope to create, is to convey the essence of what I myself connect to and “feel.”
To define this. I think of it in these terms: of having the emotion of Love of life, emanate from my creation. Just as a warm fire in winter compels and draws people closer.
I know. That is, a lofty goal. And one I often stumble, fall and abjectly fail at. That’s ok. I’m All In. I’ll keep trying. Some, do work quite well. I’m happy with that.
In whatever form, the art chooses to take for each individual, we want to strive to impart a piece of our selves, into our “Acts of Creation.”
I have discovered a new word, I thought I’d pass it along to you.
And rich, with layers of meanings.
I love it!
It fits perfectly in describing a few select pieces of my art.
I thought you too, might like to know about this word I’ll share it with you.
Along with a mini collection of my favourite art works I’ve created.
“Hibiki” Japanese meaning ……… Echo, Resonance.
This is a collection of my own paintings created either on location, an echo of a memory, or from a compilation of my own photos that I have taken myself on site.
Just to let you know, none of them are particularly recent.
For me, I feel they have, by virtue of their age, stood the test of time.
They still give me Joy.
Each one, still resonates deep within.
Reminding me of how I want to paint.
How I wish to create.
Reminding me that if I did it once, (that is if I created a painting I genuinely can feel the magic echo within me years later,) then yes, I can repeat that again.
And again. And again.
Success can be echoed.
Though, indeed, it might take time.
Persistence. And countless more paint tubes.
But in the end, it is worth it.
All that time, energy, effort is worth it – to have even a small collection that is Timeless.
That continue, to echo in my soul.
Three paintings, on the surface they appear simple. Easy.
Maybe without the studied and contrived perfection we’re used to.
They have a type of non conformity that is in direct opposition to what “art is supposed to” look like. Or so, what many of us may have been told.
They are Abstracts.
Blurred, veiled and vague.
With many abstracts, we’re left uncertain as to the precise, exact subject. There is no definitive object… leaving some of us a little bit uncomfortable.
It’s the guessing. The wondering. Being in the dark, that we’re really uncomfortable with.
We like it all spelled out. Clear.
We are perhaps uneasy with the thought of guessing incorrectly.
Nor are we comfortable with the huge margin for error that these nonrepresentational paintings provide.
We are forced to use our intuition. To ‘feel’ the emotions from the painting and from ourselves. Once again, things many aren’t completely at ease with.
A little secret, a painting can be likened to a person. It should emote. You should, be able to sense what the prevailing mood is. It shouldn’t be as if it were a flat empty face/space.
The first image.
The brush was fully loaded with three colors and brazenly, swiftly, applied. The colors merge together and yet, we see each individual.
Connected, yet their own, individual entity.
I love that philosophy.
The remembered scene, a waterfall on the edges of Mount Rainier National Parks in Washington. The emerald and pine greens with the with frosted froth of the falls…. left an indelible impression.
So even though this painting is an abstract, it’s been distilled from my reality. My depth of experience.
This second was such fun! Another acrylic, it had a bright neon orange base. Quite vibrating.
I’d decided to overpaint to neutralise the shocking orange to a low and subtle level. I used a four inch old house paint brush to apply the blue and buff in five brushstrokes.
Ie less is MORE.
I paused, considering colors, tones, and the placement of those five strokes. I wanted to convey depth, texture.
But also the feeling, the sense of “going” somewhere. That there was a path, a direction in which we could follow in our travels in this painting.
I think that was accomplished.
The third image.
The subtle hints, the mystery of the layerings and veiled coloured edges – is beautiful.
I want to paint More,like this.
Looking at this last image Veiled, there really is a lot of movement and texture and topographic work going on.
One might need to look, that is to search into the crevices filled with the gold leaf dust, before the image’s true self starts to reveal itself as : the landscape.
The landscape, Australia.
On the surface, it appears flat.
Empty even. But when you dig deeper, and look closer, you discover it’s immense resources. And beauty.
That too is part of the More….. that I’m referring to.
Education. When I present skills, concepts and new techniques, I also learn. I learned …. a LOT, from my venture To Queen’s Gardens in Perth.
On the job, on going education. Perfect.
Yes. There have been days, of ‘not so’ perfect. And I most definitely will not share those with the public. But overall, it is a great gig.
I left the green shaded groves, of the UWA Sunken Gardens. Leaving the calm, zen there.
I drove off, into the city. Clearly following my well researched and diagrammed directions. I had studied this. I knew the route.
In the city. Gosh. Who, would have suspected?
Where was my Plan B?
Needless to say, the first attempt to arrive at Queen’s Garden was met with Strike One.
I ended up, very close to my original starting point. Oops.
Do I give up and go home? Do I allow the city, and detours, to be victorious? I sighed. It WAS HOT. 90+ degrees. How bad, did I really want to go?
But, you know, I am Determined.
Someone just recently, made that comment – that I was very determined. I’m not certain if it that was a polite way of just saying, ‘Stubborn.’ I’m thinking it was though!
My “Stubbornness” won out.
I continued on my target goal to the Queen’s Gardens. Finally, 55 minutes later – I arrived! It should have taken 20, tops.
Victory. Ok I met some more road closures, detours. And had to walk from the river to the Gardens. (Bonus, more exercise for me!) The point is, I achieved my destination point.
I had a nice pleasant stroll around.
Relaxing. Taking photos of turtles, black swans, golden breasted waterfowl, massive ivory waterlilies on the deep blue ponds, wooden bridges, and the famous bench from the movie “Notting Hill.”
Towards the end of my stroll I came closer to the large statue that had caught my eye earlier. It had looked like a Pied Piper of sorts.
I was so immersed in the faces and features, the transcendent expressions the artist brought to life, I didn’t look first at the title or description.
Instead I engaged with the art. Section by section.
I loved the ‘rabbit’ like ears upon some of the figures.
Once I was finished with taking the photos, then I read.
I discovered the statue was based on JM Barrie’s story of Peter Pan.
The sculptor was Sir George Frampton. This was one of his 6 replicas he cast from his original mould. This sculpture was erected in Queens Garden in June 1929.
The original is in London, the Kensington Gardens.
Apparently with the original statue, Sir George…. acted without authorisation.
Overnight, without prior permission, he erected his Peter Pan statue unbeknownst to anyone.
He did get chastised…. however in his defense he stated that he’d simply wanted the children to be surprised. To awaken and see the ‘Peter Pan’ in the gardens ‘as if the fairies had done so overnight.’
I can just imagine how this explanation went over!
But, I think, he may have had a smidgen of ‘determination’ within himself. I don’t think he was going to allow anything to dissuade him from his goal. He knew what he wanted to accomplish.
And he did so.
Artists need to have this quality of Determination.
This almost wilful, stubbornness.
It is this, that enables them to overcome the 1001 odds that are stacked against them.
The challenges of the city proved to be an excellent educational tool. We can choose to give up too soon, or choose to be Determined.
In the words of Thomas Merton,
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
With this philosophy as our main criteria of how we define and perceive Art, much of what we do in our everyday lives could quite possibly, be seen as a form of artistic expression.
And if we began viewing these common things in such a light, then in so doing, we are are led towards living each day…… artistically.
Yesterday’s adventures included a work related excursion first, to the UWA campus Sunken Gardens in the morning. Later on in the afternoon, a visit to Queen’s Garden was fun.
While in the Sunken Gardens, the small group and I sat under the shaded canopy of a large flourishing, grove of trees. It was, Lovely.
The concepts presented to the group had three major points.
As we progressively lose these fears, finding more peace and harmony – we are in essence doing what Thomas Merton stated… finding ourselves and losing ourselves in the most wonderful ways.
While in the gardens the thought crossed my mind about having preconceived ideas. Its so easy.
In my mind, I may have muttered, “ALL these greens!”
I realised I was closing my mind off to the possibilities, that ALL those greens could present.
I concluded that I was being … ‘judgemental’ in my own way, of what I will or will not accept. As art.
And that maybe, by being more open….I could find an infinity of possibilities waiting for me that I’d never suspected, within The Greens.
I should at least, try.
I think, in the photo image below of the pond, I managed to capture some of the many possibilities of All Those Greens.
I lose myself, and find myself…Within The Greens.
Art has thousands of variations, nuances.
Flavors, if you will.
As individuals we each have our own particular preferences. One person’s preferring vanilla ice cream over strawberry ice cream doesn’t nullify that the vanilla is still … ice cream.
Isn’t it odd how we never think to debate about someone else’s different food preferences?
Art may be rock n roll to some, opera to another. Some may view Andy Warhol as THE Definition of Art; another rave Rembrant.
It is all art, in every one of the myriad forms it takes. Cooking, music, writing, video, screenwriting, hospitality, textiles….
And, we actually require the seemingly, chaotic diversity of each and every one of these forms.
It stretches us. We grow. We learn.
We. better. ourselves.
2019 I’m conducting a year long course with the title “Watercolor, Loose and Easy.” It sounds like A Plain, Ordinary, Watercolor class.
However, I’m enthusiastically passing along information on 3D, sculpture, and any other art form that presents itself, as an opportunity for the group to expand their knowledge base.
This month has been busy. Leading excursions to galleries and venues with various art forms: video, sculpture, ceramics.
The last week’s course home project…. was the creation of a 3d sculpture, in yellow.
Yes, I know.
The course title, is Watercolor. Loose and Easy.
Yet, I strongly feel that now is the time for us to try on a new pair of glasses. It’s time.
We need to expand our world.
Our perceptions. Our vision.