Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Here I am pulling things out of my kit and writing about them. Its an exercise in writing I suppose. I am actually stalling before beginning a series of art history posts, that will kick in later this week I think.

I own two palette knives. The smaller one is always on my palette and is an indispensable piece of equipment. I use it all day.The large knife is useful for loading paint into big tubes and scraping palettes and paintings that have dried.

I seldom paint with a knife, although occasionally I will use one to get some effects. I like to cut back into painted passages with a knife loaded with a background or sky color. I think of them as being a trick like an effects pedal for an electric guitar. There are artists who do great things with them and even more who do schlock with them.

If you do a passage with a knife get it right, because you will have a hard time reworking it tomorrow. It isn't as easy as reworking something painted with a brush.

I use a knife a lot as I work for the following things. I clean the mixtures off my palette when I run out of room to mix new ones. That is usually about every 20 minutes or so. I use my knife to re pile my paint that I have squeezed out, that is I turn some of them over so that the polluted part faces down.

I also scraped the surface of a dry painting before working on it in the studio. That takes down the physical edges and sometimes I strip the top of some of the more assertive brushstrokes off that way. I do this rather violently oftentimes. The side of the knife moving fast will slice the surface cleanly till it is flat, if the painting is very dry. Alkyd mediums make sure, for me, that my paintings are. Both of my knives are leaf shaped and have offset handles.

I also use my knife to trim the hairs that get out of line when I am painting, I hold up a bristle brush and cut off the hairs that stick out at a 90 degree angle from the ferule, I catch the hair against the ferule with the knife from the inside and cut it away from the brush. Looks tough when I do it.

Several other items next.

Above is an alligator I photographed in South Carolina. I believe this one was about 60 feet long. He lived on Kiawah island. This monster subsists on a diet heavy in poodles and mixed terrier breeds.

Here I am painting in Charleston. It was warm most of the time but early in the day and late I needed to wear my warm hat and this unattractive coat that looks like it was made from a Hefty bag. That Moxie is from the only 12 pack of Moxie that has been in South Carolina in modern history.

A commenter corrected me in an error I made when mentioning Marc Delessio. I stated that he taught at the atelier of Charles Cecil in Florence, Italy, but he studied there and teaches now at the Florence Academy headed by Daniel Graves. If you are in Charleston go see his show at the Ann Long Gallery and mine and Scott Moore's next door at the Ella Walton Richardson Gallery.
If you have never seen Charleston, you should. It is a very historic, unique and beautiful city that has many art galleries.


Unknown said...

I think that might be Fluffy.. the baby alligator my two older brothers released into the creek by our house when he got too big for the plastic swimming pool.

Speaking of releasing, I hope you gathered up all those Moxie cans....wouldn't want those cross breeding with local varieties like RC Cola or Dr. Pepper.

Philip Koch said...

As anyone can plainly see from the photo of Stapleton standing at his easel, there is something very wrong with the plants in South Carolina. Can anyone seriously imagine self-respecting New Hampshire plants looking all "palm tree" like that? No wonder the Hudson River School painters had strict rules against venturing south of the Mason Dixon Line.

Robert J. Simone said...

Another interesting thing about gators is that they are a lot of fun on rod and reel. Before urban sprawl there were tons of accessible natural ponds around Tampa Bay. Used to cast artificial worms to 3 foot gators all the time. They were all to happy to take the bait and give a good fight. When you got them to the shore they let go and go back to chasing chihuahuas.

Mingot and Church went well past Mason Dixon all the way to South America. Lots of funny looking plants in those pictures. said...

Love the ode to pallet knives here. As you know, I use them nearly exclusively for painting in my own ways..they are the extensions of my fingers (Marian-Pallet-Knife-Hand). The smaller of your knives shown here is the knife type that sees about 80% of the work I do. One note of caution for scraping paint off canvas - do it right or it will rip right through a painting.

Charlsston - there was a little boy who along with his nanny/babysitter loved to build all things all day with anything he could fine. When he grew up he moved to Charleston. He has been doing mass renovating in the old quarter for over ten years. I was his nanny.It makes me happy to hear that it's looking good.

willek said...

When I was a local druggist, We used non offset spatulas to fill tubes with ointment and creams made up from doctors prescriptions. We always worked on a glass ointment slab with two spatulas. The goop works its way up to the handles so you use one to clean off the other alternately to keep things neat. Your tube filling tool seems a little big for such a delicate job. Do you ever get paint onto the outside of the tubes by accident? On yourself? When doing this?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have got fluffy in a pair of shoes,he squeaks, Hello!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I like exotic foliage. The desert is the best of all.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The plants look normal to alligators. Heade went south too.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Charleston is a jewel. If you want to see a beautiful city,its as good as Boston.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yeah, paint goes everywhere!I play Zeppelin while I do it!