Monday, July 20, 2009

A Little Knifework

"Fog Bank Off Mink Point"
12x16, oil/canvas


I usually work exclusively with a brush, but occasionally I'm reminded that a painting knife can provide useful accents in the finish. During one rainy day this week, I spent some time reviewing Richard Schmid's landscape painting video, the one in which he paints a lovely picture of a Vermont barn. The last hour of this nearly three-hour video was devoted to adding painstaking, miniscule accents and corrections with a knife. Although I can do it, it's rare for me to muster that degree of patience. (And maybe that's why his paintings sell for more!)

Yesterday was sunny, so I headed out to paint in one of my favorite spots, Upper Duck Pond. The name is a misnomer, since it's really a broad tidal flat. I've seen more clam diggers there than ducks. I like it for the rock outcrops that you can walk to at low tide. I found an unusual perspective down near the waterline, which meant I had to keep my eye on the tide as I painted. I also had to keep my eye on the fog - a bank of it sat ominously just beyond the last island the whole time.

I painted broadly and got the piece to what I considered my usual finish. But when I returned to the studio, I thought it lacked sparkle. Then I remembered Schmid. So, I picked up my knife and went to work, adding a bit of light green foliage on the main rock outcrop and a little bit of glistening water in the foreground. I was really pleased with how just a few dabs could improve the piece.

Here are some details of the knife work.



4 comments:

Sandra Nunes said...

Beautiful work, Michael! Loved to see the close ups.

Jennifer Young said...

This is a gorgeous painting Michael. I love the softness--and yes, the sparkle! :-)

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Thank you, Sandra and Jennifer!

Vince Fazio said...

Michael, the bit of knifework is a perfect contrast to the soft and atmospheric that you do so well. Thus the 'edge' the knife brings to certain marks really enhances the depth. Beautiful painting!

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