|"Precipice at the Grand Canyon" 16x20, oil - SOLD|
I spent the last week working on another studio piece for the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art this next September. This one is a 16x20 and took many days. Why so long? Well, I painted with a teensy-weensy painting knife.
If you haven't painted with a knife before, you're in for a treat. Because a single wipe of the towel cleans your knife perfectly, you won't be going into your palette with a dirty tool, and your color mixtures will be richer and cleaner. And, the fact that you can clean the tool with a single wipe is a real pleasure. You use very little mineral spirits or, sometimes, none.
|My Two Knives|
The size of the tool is inversely proportional to the time it takes to paint with it. The smaller the knife, the more minutes and hours. Although I have several knives, I chose to work with smaller ones. I wanted a bit more detail and to take a little more care with edges and the shapes of things. In some ways, my smallest knife was like digging the Grand Canyon with a teaspoon. It can be tedious, but it can also be like meditation, especially with the right radio station.
I started off the painting by toning the panel with a mixture of Prussian Blue, Yellow Ochre and alkyd Transparent Red Earth (Gamblin FastMatte.) This gave the panel a rich, olive tone that dried quickly. Next, using a #4 hog bristle flat, I sketched in my design with Burnt Sienna. Then I did a quick block-in with a #12 bristle flat to establish a foundation of color. I've learned that painting with a knife goes faster if the color you're spreading on is somewhat like the color that's beneath it. That is, don't try painting with a knife on a white background, and don't try it with red on a green background. If the background color is too different, you'll obsessively try to paint over every speck of background color. (Unless you're less obsessive-compulsive or paint more impressionistically than I , and can let those little spots go.)
Next, I went from background to foreground, working with the larger of my two small knives. With this knife, the sky went rapidly and so did the more distant parts of the canyon. But once I moved to the cliff in the middle ground and the foreground precipice, I switched to my smaller knife. Finally, I moved back into the distance and added implied detail to the distant canyon areas with this same knife. Here are some detail shots of the painting for you to enjoy.