introduce yourself to a palette knife

One of the things that I like about acrylics is their ability to provide a great range of texture that I can experiment with when creating my paintings. This acrylic’s feature comes from its thick, paste like substance.

My favourite gadget to work with, when I want to creating texture or very interesting and unique effect in my paintings, is the palette knife.  When using a term “palette knife” I am referring to both painting knives and palette knives.  That is because now days painting knives are often referred to as palette knives.  Painting and palette knives are often sold together as a kit that is labeled “palette knives”. You should, however, have a clear understanding of the difference between the two.  A painting knife is a tool that is used for applying paint to the canvas.  Painting knife could be plastic or steel; it has a slightly flexible blade that is not sharpened and comes in variety of shapes and sizes to provide different texture and paint coverage. On the other hand, a palette knife, also known as spatula craft knife, is a tool that is used to mix colour, paint, paste, and mediums. It also can be plastic or steal.  Its steel blade is more flexible than the one that painting knife has, and its shape is symmetrical but also comes in different sizes.

In order to practice and get a good feel of what a palette knife has to offer, I suggest to start with a kit of 5 to 7 plastic palette knives.  This kit will provide you with a good range of different shaped, sturdy, and easy to work with palette knives.  Once skill is perfected, go ahead and attain your very own collection of steel blade palette knives.

 I used palette knives to create a few of my paintings: “Daisies and Poppies”, “Watchers”, “Gone with The Wind”.  Each and every of those arts have a different palette knife effect.  For example, the “Daises and Poppies” painting was created exclusively with palette knives.  I had to use generous amounts of paint to be able to build this very thick texture. I wanted to create the effect of reality.   I needed my flora to awaken, to move, to breathe.  In “Gone with The Wind”, I used palette knife (spatula knife) to create the wind effect in a background.  In “Watchers”, palette knives were used to build up layers of texture in form of different colored mark patches.  All three effects are completely different from each other by purpose and technique.

Today, great painting does not depend on a stroke of a brush.  It can be created by different kinds of tools, and one of them is a palette knife. I urge you to explore this sophisticated art gadget, you won’t be disappointed. You will feel like you open an extra set of eyes, as your vision of imagination will widen; another wall of limits will be broken in your wonderful world of creativity.  Have fun!

mightiness of intuitive art

What I want to discuss with you today is the method of creating an art piece with a minimum of mind participation. I am not sure if intuitive art would be the correct way to describe this method, but definitely is the closest I can think of.

What is intuitive art? There is no particular and absolute set definition for it. Intuitive art is created without planning, analyzing, or much thinking.  Some describe it as a way when the artist follows his or her intuition rather than analytical mind. I describe it as a way to LET THE ART BE. 

First time I experienced the power of intuitive art was when I painted “watchers”.  When I started this piece I had something different in mind, perhaps field of flowers dancing in stormy winds. Instead, two faces appeared before me starring endlessly somewhere that was beyond my understanding.  I love this painting.

Let’s take a closer look at what happened, the process itself. I started painting my stormy flower field by creating blue – gray background. After mixing, blending, reapplying and layering the paint my background was complete.  I must mention it came out very nicely, but it felt very wrong. Somehow, I had no satisfaction, no excitement towards it.  I was not into the scene.  I had the urge to make it all even. I added more blue and got rid of my original background by using a palette knife. At that point I no longer had a control over my painting.

When my analytical mind had no suggestions on what I had to paint, my intuitive mind came to rescue. I got a feeling to make background darker. I used palette knife to create a patched dark background. Then I wanted to break the dark with yellow and green, also it seemed right to use a bit of a red. I really liked what came out. I let the paint dry. While it was drying I was looking at the painting trying to figure out how it needed to be finished.  Then I saw the lines that were clearly making faces, lips, and eyes. I was nearly shocked and had no choice but to make those faces seen and alive. All I had to do was to go over lines with paint and Walla!

You might think that my experience was somewhat creepy, but I found it amazing, interesting, and transforming.  It felt like I exchanged places with paint and brushes; I wasn’t a master, but an instrument, a tool. I followed instructions of my very own intuition; I’ve been told what to do.  It was fascinating. This experience transferred my vision to a different level; widened it to a completely new perspective. 

Sometimes, you’ll find it difficult to paint what you planned. You will have a choice of being frustrated and continue to struggle in finding a way to make your original plan to work OR you can simply LET THE ART BE, surrender to the process and see where it leads you.  And if you accept “the change of plan”, I guarantee, it will be the experience to remember and to learn from.

 You can have structure, organization, and planned strategy to find your art, however, sometimes you have to let the art find you.  Keep your heart open and Have fun!

influence of criticism

Today I decided to step aside from painting techniques and talk about criticism.  Did it make you feel heaviness in your stomach, the word criticism? Why? What is criticism? Why is it so influential and scary?

Here is a very simple definition of criticism: it is a judgment of something’s or someone’s qualities and flaws.  Criticism usually takes a form of harshness, but sometimes can be quite friendly and even humoristic.  There is something else you should know – constructive criticism is well built, it outlines both positive and negative points. It also includes suggestions for further improvement, and, therefore, could be very valuable.

Criticism is not to be confused with rude opinion, which is non-constructive and negative word dashing.

I do appreciate constructive criticism. It can be very rough at times, but, if you manage to overlook the bitterness and pick out the important points, criticism can be extremely beneficial to your practice. On the other hand, let us not confuse constructive criticism with disrespectful comment or plain rude opinion. The last two are self-explanatory and can affect someone’s path in a very powerful way.

Please don’t attach yourself to rude comments, let them through and move on.

When I decided to share my art (with public),   I was very worried about being criticized and sometimes so much, that it would affect my inspiration and imagination guides.   I had to stop and smell the roses. I had to think of what my work represented to ME instead of worrying about what it meant to others. Everyone is unique and will always have an opinion.

When I painted “Her Extravaganza” I got so many wonderful comments about this painting.  I was somewhat surprised, because this piece is not ordinary and not for everyone.  Well, one day that “not for everyone” found me, and “Her Extravaganza” was hit with “bloody awful” comment.  When I read it I could feel my heart climbing into my throat. The feeling was so overwhelming that it locked out my inspiration and imagination guides for a few days.  I could not paint. Then I thought about what happened and why it affected me so much.  Was my art criticized? Was I?

More I thought about the comment, it became clearer to me, that the feedback was no more than a rude remark. It was not an opinion or criticism as it had no construction, perspective, no points, no facts, no ideas or suggestions. I could gain absolutely nothing out of this information.  That’s when I decided not to bother with it any longer. What a load off my shoulders that was. I learnt something new – I learnt not to pay attention to non-valuable comments.

Going public with your Art creations does have pros and cons.  Cons sometimes can be very helpful or very hurtful.  My advice is to learn how to define strength in every con and discard the rest of information into the invisible garbage can. Do not attach yourself to somebody’s statement, it is not personal.

There are so many kinds of art.  Who is to say what’s right and what’s wrong? How can anyone possibly see what you show without knowing you, your feelings, and your views? Do you remember Vincent van Gogh – essentially self-thought, post-impressionist artist? In 10 years he painted over 900 paintings. Can you imagine? He did not sell any of the paintings during his life time and faced constant society disapproval. His painting techniques were appreciated just by a few, and were considered childish by the most.

Nowadays, society admires Vincent van Gough’s colour and technique break through. His works are preserved in museums and some have been sold for substantial amount of money. Did disapproval affect van Gough’s emotional world? I am positive it did, but he never stopped doing what he loved the most.  He continued expressing, painting, repainting, discovering new techniques and colour hidden abilities. He said that painting calmed him, made him feel normal and at happiest.

In conclusion, when you become brave enough to get out of your shell and face the “out there world”, remember to do what makes YOU happy. There are no obligations in the process, no musts.   Please don’t allow criticism, rude comments and foolish opinions to discourage you.  Pay attention to what is being said, pick out the valuable points and make them your strength, ditch the rest and move on.

Remind yourself every day what art means to YOU! Most importantly – HAVE FUN!