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.


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!