Friday, August 30, 2013

Let's Hear It For Palette Knives

I am just now beginning to process all the photos I took on our European Trip to Norway, Denmark and Amsterdam, Holland. Since we literally flew in to Oslo arriving in the afternoon, then meeting our Danish friends that evening we never had time in Oslo until after our train, boat and finally car experience! We jumped on the train to Bergen the next morning. In the process of looking at those photos, many shot from a skyrocketing train, I happened upon this bucolic shot.

Norwegian Hillside
I knew from the moment I shot it, and then saw it in iPhoto, this was destined to be a painting.

The scene was rather complicated and in some ways very difficult both to see and to replicate. While it is not finished, this is what I managed to complete in about two and a half hours.

Other than the sky, the entire background was painted with DecoArt's Black Green. I figured it was better to start with the dark and work my way to the light. The sky, still not completely resolved was a very boring completely cloudless blue. I have played with several colors and am still not satisfied. This was done with a brush. Then tackling the mountains, again with a brush, I just didn't seem to get the texture, the dimension that I wanted.

Grabbing one of the two palette knives I keep in my brush case, I mixed up green, blue and grey to get the mountain colors. They were far away but had glints of green, blue shadows and other rather indistinct colors. Then, when I started with the hillside greens, and yes, they ARE that brilliant even in late July, a brush just wasn't cutting it. So, laying out some olive green (bad name, its much brighter than any olive I have ever seen) I wiped the palette knife from left to right. (I am left handed). I was surprised by the sweep and when you moved away to see it, the incredible texture you got. The houses were blocked in so I didn't care if the palette knife got careless. And now, after painting, them, I think they could use a little palette knife ruffing up as well.

Back and forth I went. Adding a little Avocado here, Black Green there and finally, getting all of the shadows, began to work on the snow. As real as it looks, it took less than 5 minutes to do. Continuing a little palette knife work on the stream at the lower left, I moved on. There is nothing more than needs to be added. The snow, or what I saw of it is perfect. ALL done with a palette knife.

The irony here is that the palette knife allowed me a freedom I have never known with a brush. And yet, despite that freedom, I also realized that it created a near realism image that I never sought but that makes the painting more real than anything else I could have ever done. The slope of the hills, the distant mountains, the meadow, the shocking green, this is all what I saw, what the photo shows. I know that while the image might fail, the painting has a good chance of living just as it is for centuries.

After I finished with the houses, and putting in the rough roadbed in the lower right, I realized that I had made a mistake with the houses. It wasn't that they weren't right, it was they seemed to be from a different painting. They were too smooth, too finished. When taken from a distance, those problems are resolved in a harmonious whole, however, I worry about the closeup view.

There are some details I would like to add, maybe some messy electrical lines I might ignore, but all in all, this painting is finished. No one viewing it would ever have a problem understanding what it is. And maybe, just maybe, I should leave well enough alone.

1 comment:

  1. I like to use mine on mountains and replicating the texture on the side of a barn; gotta love Bob Ross! I've yet to create a whole painting with one. LOVE this painting. You did a fantastic job!