Monday, July 23, 2012

Another little trick I know 3



I don't paint much with a knife, well sometimes, but..... I scrape with my knife a lot. I like sharp tools, in my workshop, I like my brushes sharp, and I sharpen the edge of my palette knife too. I use the sort of knife that has an offset blade. I get mine from Jerrys Artarama and I buy the  Liquitex knives. I expect there are fancier knives out there but these work for me. I have snapped off way too many cheap knives where that offset neck meets the leaf shaped blade that were made by the Chi-Coms . The Liquitex knives seem to be of a better metal and I haven't had that problem with them. I like to scrape the surface of my canvas to take the surface down to  a smooth finish before resuming working on a dried canvas. I use an alkyd medium so my paintings dry quickly. The alkyd (Liquin) that I add to my medium makes the paint a little rubbery too and that makes it scrape well. I can slice the ridges and pentimenti from my canvas better than if I don't use an alkyd medium.

I use a sharpening stone from the tool department of a hardware store or big box vendor. I put a little sharpening stone oil on there and hone the edge of the knife that will be doing the work. As I am right handed that would be the left hand edge as viewed from the top. I work it until it is fairly sharp. I don't need or want, a razors edge, that might cut me as I work with it, but it is a lot sharper than your  palette knife.  Give it a few quick passes on the backside of the cutting edge to remove the hook like ridge that builds up there after honing the working edge. Just a couple of passes will do that.

My sharp palette knife takes the painting to an almost glass like surface even if there are ridges of paint left from yesterdays ministrations. Often I will hold the tip of the knife blade pinched between my fingers and bend the blade into a scythe shape to slice off an individual ridge of paint.



I slip a little Masonite panel behind the canvas to protect it if I have to scrape over where a there is a stretcher bar. If you don't do this you will leave a mark on the front that will show through your paint as the knife chops into the surface when it encounters the hidden stretcher bar beneath.

video

I went seascape painting this last week. I escape all the summer greens by heading to the water . Here is a a video of that. I take a lot of these little movies, they are better than still photography for studying the action  of the surf. This is from my Sony Cyber-Shot camera not a digital movie camera. It will take a long enough video to catch the entire action of a couple of waves.


10 comments:

Sergio Lopez said...

Do you prefer your knives to be stiffer? I was using the Liquitex knives but I tried a few of the Cheap Joe's brand knives (cost being the main factor) and I have to say I really like the springiness of them. It sounds like you mostly use them for scraping and not paint application, so using a stiffer blade would make more sense.

mariandioguardi.com said...

I paint with knives. I do like Liquitex knives but they don't make the all the sizes and shapes I use. So I buy the Italian knives, P&M. The problem that I have had with cheap knives, from China , is that the nicklel plating peels off . I like some of my knives to be springy and some to be stiff. But springy lasts longer.

Those fancy expensive knives, I find are just expensive.... I test one every now and then and I find some of them to actually provide poor delivery, especially the anaodized black knives.

Jean Spitzer said...

Very helpful. Thanks.

Simone said...

That is a good idea. Like sharpening fishing knives. Don't know why I never thought of it. Thanks!

jeff said...

For those who use a glass palette if you mix a lot on the palette it will but a very sharp edge on the knife.
I know of one painter who cut his finger almost to the bone using a knife like this. He was not aware of how sharp the knife had become and had an accident.

Albert. S said...

Wow..! that's a great idea. I live by the bay and never thought of doing that. Btw,... that is a awesome place where you took some vid of the water. Thanks for post.

Paul Murphy said...

The short video clip is a great idea, I'm going to try that.

Phil Morin said...

I usually dull my knives as they get sharp from usage.I use a sharpening stone with a little mineral oil same as you except I shape the edge to have a sort of letter "D" profile .More of a rounded edge.I find that some knives when new are so rough they don't scrape the palette very well and so smoothing and shaping like this helps.Never bought a Liquitex knife- I don't really like the grips on them so I generally use Italian or Japanese knives. Great blog by the way I've really enjoyed it since I've discovered it a few days ago!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, Phil, If you have the time, read the blog backwards, starting from the beginning, it is sequential to some extent. The Liquitex knives don't seem to loosen up and swivel on their tangs. I mostly clean my palette with them, if I painted with a knife much I would probably use some fancier knife, The Liquitex knives are cheap. Me too.
..........Stape

Menseffects said...

I never know about this before reading your blog.
Out The Front Knives