Painting really large with palette knife!


I purchased a large(for me) stretched canvas a few months ago with the thought it would be a good winter project.

 However it just sat in my studio for all the winter months as frankly I didn't relish freezing to death out there! Too lazy to light the fire and wait the required time for my massive gallery room to heat...and let's not talk about the oil paint being too cold to work freely as well!!

I know, I know. EXCUSES!!!!

In the back of my mind I had a forest scene...maybe something with water in it, or a bush track, or perhaps just another sea scene. Indecisions galore! Lo and behold, a walk through the Old Coach Road track at Papatowai (Catlins New Zealand) gave me some inspiration! A few photos looking through the trees to the estuary might be something to work from.

So Saturday I decided I was opening my gallery, hence lighting the fire and warming the space, a good day to start this massive canvas! I got all set up with a limited palette of colours, white, blue, light red, yellow and some viridian green. Plus a bit of magenta. Paint was still cold to work so I mixed in a bit of linseed to make it easier to spread. 

Where to start?? Maybe the darks first and put in some basic tree shapes and the darker foreground?

I had my largest palette knife which has a blade close to the length of my hand...but even then it was hard work just getting paint on! Eventually after squeezing out more and more paint I seemed to get somewhat of a coverage. I started by just mixing the red and blue together with just a bit of the yellow, the colours not really mixed that well so they lay on the canvas as lots of broken colour. More red in some places, more blue in others. Maybe I should have taken a couple of pics as I worked my way across...however, once in the zone I am exactly that...everything else around me is forgotten!

Long story short (frankly because I can't remember the process I took after just happens) approximately 3 or so hours later I deemed it time to just let it be called almost finished. I really did need to get my nose out of it and take a break so I could come back with fresh eyes later. There is a saying "you can't see the woods for the trees". (Pun intended) One must learn to step away and I admit that I'm a bit like a dog with a bone....I just keep piling on more and more paint, even when that is NOT the right thing to do! I don't know how many dollars worth have been scraped off and into the bin.

Am I happy with the finished painting? Almost, but it's niggling at me, I'm tempted to fiddle a bit more but am fully aware that step is sometimes to the detriment of the whole thing. I'm lucky the room is so cold...the paint is not drying at the potential to change something is still viable. But is that the right choice??

It's a known fact that we artists are our own worst critic... 


  • Such a great job with the darks and lights. Love how you have done the bark on the trees.❤️

    Glenis Ambrose
  • That’s the story, never too old to learn Lyn. Well done!


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