Palette knife workshop at Art of the Carolinas 2018

Shortly after moving to Raleigh I learned about Art of the Carolinas, an annual art workshop and art supplies expo sponsored by Jerry’s Artarama. And it’s right here in Raleigh! At the time registration opened, I was painting with acrylics, knew I wanted to pursue landscapes, and didn’t have experience with palette knife painting. So I chose Loose & Lively Landscapes with Palette Knife taught by local artist Kim Maselli. Lucky for me, the class was good for both acrylics and oils, so when we set up our palettes we could pick which medium we preferred (I went with the oil paints).

The workshop started with a demo by Kim on using the palette knife and some pointers on painting skies. Then we went to our panels and painted our skies, while she walked around and made suggestions. Next she demonstrated mountains and trees, and gave us time to go back and paint our own. After this step, time was getting short so I had to kick things into high gear because I really wanted to finish the grasses and water. I didn’t quite get the bottom area finished, but I actually liked that time ran out because it meant I couldn’t go back and fuss with details.

Loose and Lively Landscapes with a palette knife workshop painting Nov 8 2018
My (almost-finished) painting from the workshop done entirely with a palette knife.

Up close, the painting looks like a melty mess, but when I stand back several feet or go across the room I like it much better.

My favorite pieces of advice from the instructor were:

  • When doing the initial drawing to place the elements, think in terms of making five big shapes.
  • Mix three puddles of green for the dark, mid, and light values — which made it pretty easy to block them in but suggest the form at the same time.
  • Keep variety in shapes — I initially had the contours of my mountains unintentionally mimic each other and I was grateful that Kim pointed that out so I could adjust.
I wish I had taken a few progress shots but as per usual the act of painting was so engrossing that it completely slipped my mind. 
Loose and Lively Landscapes with a palette knife workshop painting Nov 8 2018
My table top easel with reference photo below.

The workshop was a lot of fun and the time just flew by. I can definitely see incorporating the palette knife in more paintings, probably for the lighter, more textured areas, with the paintbrush for darker, thinner areas. Or for things like softening edges and reflections on water. I really liked dragging the knife vertically for the water reflections.

I went back today for the trade show, and was pretty proud of myself for not bringing home one of everything. I got a few pads of paper (bristol and marker paper for playing around with pointed pen calligraphy), a big tube of titanium white, some Gamblin cold wax medium and solvent-free gel to experiment with, and a few odds and ends. I couldn’t pass up the Silver Brush Grand Prix brushes and bought a few small sizes that I find myself reaching for often.

Now the question is: do I go back tomorrow for more deals??

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