I purchased a set of four extra large Liquitex painting knives a couple of weeks ago and challenged myself to paint a complete large(30″ x 40″) landscape with each of them. I will share what I have learned as I work on the paintings.
The first painting will be completed with the Liquitex Painting Knife, Large No. 10 pictured above. For this landscape painting I selected a design idea from my most recent trip to Cozumel it is a view near the area called “el Mirador”. A view of the blue Caribbean water interacting with the sharp ” iron shore” limestone of Cozumel. For those who are familiar with this “wild” part of the Cozumel east coast this was a pretty calm morning.
So far The big no. 10 painting knife has performed well. The only problems I have encountered are related to me being right-handed. There are areas on every canvas where I have trouble making right-handed marks.
As I complete the painting I will add a few more in-progress images and I will talk more about the tool.
Mixing color with the big knife is a pleasure it handles big piles of paint with ease and it feels good in my hand. I was able to mix and block in large areas of color in a short time. The “Scotch” in me makes me cringe at the quantity of paint I am squeezing out. As I have progressed in this painting I have struggled a bit with exactly what my marks should look like. As I began refining areas of the painting it began to have the same “feel” as the Arch painting I completed a month ago so I have let it go in that direction something I called a “Van Gogh-esc” look . It is an interesting form with the potential for color, linear and textural movement and rhythm. It is a form that I think I will explore for a few more paintings.( Although I had a professor who admonished me not to paint this way after viewing a work with similar form that I tried as a student.)
The painting has continued to evolve as a series of dashes and blobs. I have been able to create an interesting variety of mark shapes with the big Liquitex No. 10 painting knife using the edges and tip. When I start my next (3rd) painting session I plan on adding a smaller trowel shape knife to help me break up and refine some of the lines in the design.
I have completed the knife work on the painting. I think it is finished. I will look at it in my studio for a few days to make sure. I am happy with the way the big knife worked since I only spent about 6.00 on it I can’t complain to much. I really liked the big handle it was easy to hold. I thought the knife had decent spring and it appears to be well built my only complaint would be that the bend or neck between the blade and the handle could be longer so it had a deeper drop so my knuckles could be further from the surface of the canvas.
I like the design, the yin yang , half land half sea quality of the design. Like most artists when they walk away from a painting I know it is not what I had in mind exactly but the essence is there and I had the bonus of exploring the possibilities of a new tool. I can already imagine it on the south wall of my family room (at least for a few weeks).
The cool thing is I have three more big knives to try out! The next design may be drawn from almost the same location looking south as opposed to north.
Here are the first sessions result of my big Liquitex No. 13 painting knife test and review.
I liked the way I was able to mix and cover a 30 x40 canvas in 3-4 hours. The knife forces me to live with its marks. The similarity of the marks gives a rhythmic quality to the application. Of course during this first session I am mostly trying to get the right color in right location.
As for the composition I was just a little nervous starting this composition with so much sharp texture and contrast in the foreground. The rough and I mean ROUGH texture of the limestone “iron shore” should contrast nicely with the smoother, lower contrast shapes of the water wave and sky.
I spent a couple more hours working on the painting with the large No. 13 knife and I will call it session two. I like the mark making control this knife gives particularly for sharper edges and linear shapes. I have been painting with oil paint for 30 years and I can’t believe that I have neglected to use this tool more often. So far thumbs up for the big No. 13!
I am struggling a bit capturing the correct colors and values that I want …but that is what makes the act of painting so rewarding, solving the problems.
I Spent yet another morning with the big N0. 13 and this painting and I am still enjoying the somewhat random quality of the marks I can make with it. However, I think another tool will be needed to break up the regular squareness and edginess of the marks. I have come to the conclusion that it is a better painting tool than a mixing tool for me.
The painting is coming together, this third session leaves the painting almost finished. I can only see a few changes that I would like to make and then I will put this painting aside and begin work on my next big knife painting.
I returned to this canvas one last time with The Big No. 13 knife. I added more value and a bit of modeling in the foreground rock shapes. I also touched up a few color/value transitions that were bothering me. I am calling this painting complete. I am happy with the big No 13 knife; the limitations it imposed on me were mostly positive. I will use it again!
My next oil painting in this knife review series will be a approaching storm cloud painting. Two years ago Rhonda and Jewel and I were on Cozumel and it was breezy and I thought for sure we were in for some kind of storm. But the stormy clouds just hung out over the ocean; sending patches of clouds towards land which created an awesome display of light and shadow on the beach. In my mind I visualize a simple painting so wait and see how it turns out. The Big Liquitex knife I will be using and reviewing for this painting is a rounded No. 2. It looks like a short necked pancake turner.
My first observation after using the No. 2 knife for a few hours is that it is not a mixing knife for the palette! It performed better as a blocking in tool but it would not be my first choice for that task either. It is a painting knife When I started making subtle value adjustments and edges I found that the No. 2 performed quite well. I was able to manage vertical and horizontal edges better than I had expected based on the rounded shape of the knife.
My second session with the No. 2 knife went well. I was able to make some nice small small marks with the knife. My only concern with the painting is I have some value adjustments to make between the two large shapes in the painting so I need to decide how to proceed with transparency or opacity?………. I chose opacity.
I modified the values in a couple of places and after an hour or so I put down the big painting knife and brushed in a lone figure on the beach.
This composition is quite simple…. which means it may but tougher for me to complete. I will add the finished painting as soon as it is done. As for the No. 2 painting knife I thought it was very versatile as a painting tool and as I indicated above I could not mix with it.
Ok! This is the last of the Liquitex knife review paintings. I am using the Big No. 6 for this oil painting and again I am working a composition from the east side of Cozumel. As I blocked in the painting I determined that the No 6. was not an efficient mixing tool, so I did my mixing with the No. 10. I found that the paint scraped on fairly easy on the bare canvas leaving a trail along one edge of the stroke no matter how careful I stroked. This characteristic I don’t see as a problem in my work but some painters might find the ridges annoying. I had excellent edge control (see the horizon). However, I did struggle with more organic shapes, the angled, hard edged shape of the tool made it difficult . Again, as with the No. 13 knife, I think the limitations may enhance the abstract or suggestive quality of the final product. I came and added another layer of paint using the No. 6 knife. I liked the way the knife performed. The composition seems balanced and calm (like the morning I was there). there are a few color changes That I may make but all in all I feel pretty good about the painting.
If you are interested in owning this or any other paintings in my blog or if you would like me to interpret your favorite scene contact me. Check out the win a painting link before you leave. You may now purchase prints and cards of some of my painting s at Fine Art America .