I RECENTLY added two new videos about painting with palette knives to my Gumroad site (download for $9.95 each). I divided them to speed up download times. Here is a list of the 26 palette knives shown in the video (linked via my Amazon Associates links).
Ceramic loop used to scrape dried paint to prepare for a new layer of paint from the palette knife.
Canvas scraper used to scrape paint from one area of the painting and to apply to another and also used to scratch into wet paint.
This is another great butter-knife palette knife that has slightly less flexibility but with an excellent shape for blending.
This is another great butter-knife palette knife that has slightly less flexibility but with an excellent shape for blending.
This is probably my most-used palette knife both in the studio and en plein air. It has a slightly stiff flex and a blunt end that makes it great for applying paint as well as blending — an excellent all-around knife.
The ginkgo-leaf palette knife, another one of my must-have knives. This one is perfect for blending and has a broad end that can deliver a wide array of marks.
“CAN’T you see the red in that shadow?” I was taking a painting workshop at the Grand Canyon from one of America’s preeminent landscape painters. My instructor was pointing to a shadowy cliff. I peered into the depths but couldn’t see a single ray of color. It was all black to me.
Our instructor wanted us to paint a nocturn on our fourth day of painting. I was intrigued; I had never painted a nocturn before. It sounded impossibly hard at my stage of development, but I was willing to try. My only problem after I set up my easel at the edge of the canyon was I could see very little color. The shadows looked totally black.
Initially, I felt my instructor might be feigning to see color in that abyss. But then I realized he had no incentive to exaggerate. I accepted the possibility he could see something I could not.
Fast forward fifteen years; I’m beside a river and peering into the shadows of a distant tree. It’s midmorning, and I see reds and purples in those shadows. It occurs to me that a decade ago, a similar shadow would appear to be a shade of neutral gray, with practically no trace of color. What changed? I now see subtle shifts of hue in the darkest recesses. I mix the colors I see and apply the paint with a palette knife.
Back in the studio, I’m pleased to note that the painting is one of the best plein air paintings I have painted recently. It has all the hallmarks I love; spontaneous, half-mixed color, with lots of complementary color in nearly every stroke. But most importantly, the shadows have a glow I rarely achieve. The shadows have color.
Although I still have trouble seeing color in shadows at midday, I am looking for them and expect them to appear soon. I now know my instructor was not feigning to see a hue that wasn’t there. He saw more color because he had developed a heightened sensitivity. His ability to see color had magnified due to the innumerable hours he spent peering into those inky depths.
I can’t explain it. It doesn’t seem plausible to me, and I haven’t read anything on the subject to cast more illumination on such a possibility. I have experienced not seeing color in shadow, and years later was able to see subtle color gradations in similar shadows. It was a beautiful moment.
—I’VE been involved in art all my life. I have illustrated book covers, executed editorial work for publications such as the New York Times, and had a career as a fine art woodcut artist. But painting en plein air was my most difficult artistic challenge. After years of struggle, I recently crossed a threshold with my plein air work.
Not every painting I paint en plein air is a success. But every painting is now a learning experience, and painting a good painting is no longer a mystery to me. I enter the prospect of painting outdoors without the trepidation I once experienced. I wrote about minimizing anxiety in an article for Plein Air Magazine online (read the article here).
Smashing the mental barrier was critical to my plein air success, but subsequent technical breakthroughs were equally valuable. For the Oil Painters of America show in St. George, Utah, I decided it would make sense to use a quick-drying paint. Such paint would make the paintings easier to handle and keep the back of my car tidy, which was functioning as a mobile studio.
I like Gamblin Color’s commitment to low-toxicity. So I opted to use their Fast Matte Oil colors, which have a fast drying time and come in familiar pigments I use in the studio. I loaded my paintbox with my usual selection in Fast Matte oils. When I found a beautiful site along the Virgin River, I began mixing and applying color with my favorite palette knife.
I had used Fast Matte oils before but usually to add a last-minute touchup, glaze, or signature when I needed the paint to be dry for a show. I had never used Fast Matte for every color on my palette. I found the slightly stiffer paint to work surprisingly well with palette knives. I discovered that the butteriness so essential to brush painting was a detriment when using a knife.
Not only did the paint have a beautiful viscosity, but the paint also stiffened quickly on the canvas. The initial layer of paint was ready for impasto overpainting in the short time typical of plein air painting. Such structural consistency happens in the studio only after hours of working and letting the paint stiffen on the canvas. Additionally, the paint did not get excessively soft in the blistering Utah sun like so many other brands (such softening can be the death knell to effective palette knife painting).
In some cases, I had to add a bit of Gamblin Gel to the impasto overpainting. Additional medium made the paint softer and allowed the color to skim over the bottom layer in the fashion I enjoy and critical to my style (see the second photo).
Such discoveries allowed me to paint at a level far exceeding my previous abilities painting en plein air. There were added benefits, such as not having to add thickening mediums to my paint (which can be messy and time-consuming in the field). I preferred to let Gamblin mix the proper amount of thickeners to the paint while ensuring maximum color saturation.
The result was that I achieved a simplified and enjoyable painting process, and painted four gallery-worthy paintings in two days. Unfortunately, three of the paintings were disqualified for being too large. The painting that got into the show was the first to sell—the only proof I needed, besides the enjoyment I felt while painting, that my new technique was working.
It was interesting that my desire to have my paintings dry quickly in the field led to discovering how to paint with thick paint en plein air. As usual, the simplest solutions are often the best.
Let me know about your experience with these materials.
–ONE of my early influences was Maxfield Parrish. I loved his bright color and unique subject matter. I admired his use of paint and brushes to create a distinctive, two-dimensional world. I loved visiting that world.
I later learned that Parrish would paint a Raw Umber or Ultramarine Blue grisaille and then glaze in the local colors over the top with multiple applications of transparent pigment. Although I experimented using such techniques I later abandoned them in favor of a highly textured, alla prima approach. Such methods were a more authentic expression of my personality.
However, I later came to see that glazing, when used correctly, could be an excellent method to preserve impasto passages while adjusting hue, value, and saturation. I filmed an hour and 15-minute video detailing what I know about glazing and scumbling over textured paintings. It is currently available at my Gumroad store (or link below).
Let me know what you think of the video and as always feel free to leave comments and questions below.
The object becomes aesthetically significant when it becomes metaphysically significant. –Joseph Campbell
I RECENTLY had an interview with Jerry Hardesty of the podcast The Artist’s Voice. I’m glad to share my artistic journey with fellow artists and collectors. It isn’t always easy for artists to share our story. We are often notorious introverts (I count myself in that category).
But we shouldn’t be reluctant to get in front of a mic or camera. Such willingness to tell our story is critical for our careers. Like so many things in life, we don’t get what we deserve, we get what we strive to achieve.
Many artists wonder why sharing our story is so important. Recently I was asked to share with buyers why I created the paintings they purchased. Initially, I thought, “It’s a painting! It doesn’t need a story. I’m not an illustrator!” But I softened my view. I believe that those who buy paintings change their lives as they pass the painting every day. They are incrementally changed by its beauty. I want to expose as many people as possible to that beauty.
I realized that my painting project is not about the objects I create. It’s about the change I make by creating a beautiful space collectors want to inhabit. It’s not about the thick paint or the painting as an object. It’s about the positive change in the lives of viewers. If we love our careers and our paintings more than we love our collectors we are destined to fail. As we regard our paintings as a product, we diminish the metaphysical effect of the painting.
Artists are creating an emotional experience for the viewer. By focusing on the emotional experience we see why collectors want to know more about the painting. They want to know why it was created, what was its inspiration, what is the technical background of the artist. The collector wants to connect with your inspiration. They want to envision the ideas and conversations that will emerge. If we disparage that possibility saying the painting wasn’t intended as a conversation piece, we disparage the emotional impact of our paintings.
As we communicate our narrative to our collectors, we reinforce an emotional connection. No one can do this more effectively than us. And if we don’t do it, it is unlikely that anyone else will.
Where do artists get such negative ideas regarding our potential collectors? I blame it on the postmodernism that art schools foist onto their unsuspecting victims. Postmodernists pushed the idea that the love Aunt Bea had for Andy and Barney was a deceit to navigate an oppressive patriarchal hierarchy. After all, postmodernists don’t believe in love. So it isn’t possible for them to embrace painting as an expression of love. What appears as love is an evolutionary and deceitful attempt to acquire the physical resources to survive.
I think it’s time to retire such profoundly flawed philosophies. I think the world is ready for it. I understand the function of postmodernism; to shear away the barnacles of corruption that inevitably emerge from hierarchies. But as a day-to-day operating system, postmodernism dooms its practitioners to unhappiness and failure.
When I attended the Van Gogh show at the Metropolitan in New York City, I was profoundly moved. And the emotion I felt was love. It was so intense, I wept. I have never mentioned my experience publicly because I know the reaction would most likely be, “how sentimental”! But I now understand the necessity for authenticity in telling our stories. I intend to mention my experience more often.
REALIST ARTISTS believe their work explains itself. They think what the viewer sees and feels is adequate. I sympathize with such ideas. But artists who can explain their work will have an advantage over those who cannot.
Many artists feel postmodernism is displacing the representational forms they love. Some view it as a ploy where craven publicists promote postmodernist art as a massive joke. But the problem is not bad art triumphing over good art. The real problem is inadequate communication.
Postmodernist art, with its political and social controversy, has an innate social contagion. More subtle art forms are less contagious and it is difficult to express their importance. Imagine two exhibits. One has an immediate postmodernist hook. The other has an elusive beauty and is difficult to explain. The show that is easiest to describe will get media attention. Controversial shows will always prevail over the non-controversial. Your exhibit about the beauty of nature won’t get as much coverage as the show about a prosaic postmodernist cause du jour. Everyone important will be talking about the cause du jour. Your beautiful paintings won’t have a chance–unless you communicate more effectively.
In the communication revolution, those who communicate best prevail. That is a difficult prognosis for artists whose work is poetic and beautiful rather than offensive and controversial. But artists must accept responsibility for the success of their work. They must communicate why their work is important. Playing the role of the miffed bohemian, no matter how satisfying, will not be sufficient compensation for a successful career.
My career is important to me. I view those who buy my work as patrons of my art project. They make future work possible. In their absence, I have no future as an artist. But it isn’t my patrons’ job is to articulate why my work is interesting and important. It is my job.
In the video below I explain in more detail the importance of effective communication.
zzz GENERALLY speaking, it is easier to paint thinly than it is to paint with thick, rich strokes of color. It is also better to start painting thin and work your way to thicker paint applications. The reason is that thin painting can be tentative–you can slowly build up the paint layer and adjust color and value very slowly via dry brush, glazing, or scumbling.
In this painting, I have kept the paint film quite thin. This allows for additional paint after the initial thin layer has dried. If it had been painted thickly, I would have had to scrape off the large impasto strokes using a sharpened ceramic loop tool or a canvas scraping knife to add additional texture. If the surface is too textured all subsequent manipulation becomes more difficult.
For example, imagine trying to glaze on a highly textured surface. Parts of the glaze with sink into the clefts of the strokes. The ridges would get less of a glaze as some pigment would naturally sink into the clefts. This is essentially what happens when someone antiques a painted surface when they are refinishing a piece of furniture. In a painting, it can give an odd, uneven effect that I try to avoid (although I do use the effect occasionally in my acrylic abstracts).
If you have tried applying thick paint and have not had as much success as you want I highly recommend painting thinly and gradually increasing the thickness of your paint. If you look at Van Gogh’s paintings in chronological sequence, you see that he started painting quite thinly, almost with the thinness of an academic painter, and gradually increased the texture as he matured artistically.
If you find the thick paint defeating your intent from time to time drop back to a thinner style for a few paintings until you get your courage back, then dive into thick paint once more.
–I HAVE read how many artists avoid using black paint at all costs. Some even decry it as not being a real color. Which is somewhat ridiculous. If it wasn’t a color that would mean it didn’t reflect light and would be a sort of black hole of reality, sucking in light but reflecting nothing. It is more accurate to say that black is a color that is extremely dark and extremely neutral. In a few minutes, I’m going to broadcast live (16 Jan 2019, 12:30 MT) on my Instagram feed where I will add green to a painting using black, cadmium yellow, and yellow ochre (and possibly some ultramarine blue). In the demo, it will become evident that black is a color and of use to the experienced painter. So the dictum that black is not a color should be modified to black is a color that is best used after having some experience. If you would like to use black but feel you might not be experienced enough try using Chromatic Black from Gamblin colors. Remember, the color it looks like is the color it is. But the fact that Chromatic Black is a mixture of Quinacridone Red and Thalo Green helps novice painters to accept the neutrality of the color. If you have these two colors you can mix your own. You do not want your deep darks to be a complete balance between cool and warm. If it is it will appear to be a dead color, no matter what colors are combined to make a neutral hue. Black with a touch of ultramarine blue is a beautiful color and is often sold as Payne’s Gray after the 18th-century British watercolorist William Payne. You should always bias your blacks so they are leaning to either the warm or cool side of the spectrum. I also suggest adding a hint of white to bring out the tonal beauty of the color. Also, remember that no dark color should occupy no more than 5% of an extremely dark range. Use those super darks for notes within your dark shapes. With experience, dark colors of all kinds from Mars black to Ivory black can be handled well in your paintings. Brad Teare –January 2019
–LEARNING to replicate the energy of your drawings in your paintings is one of the most productive advances you can make in painting. In my recent Gumroad video I show how the drawings of Vincent Van Gogh form the essential basis for his paintings (video link below). On comparing his drawings and paintings, we see that his drawings have the same rhythmic strokes and dashes as if they are a rehearsal for the paintings. Toward the end of the video, I do a quick demo of how Van Gogh added dots, dashes, and other calligraphic strokes simultaneously creating linear detail and value. In his drawings, Van Gogh used a reed pen on paper. I use acrylic markers on canvas. But I replicate Van Gogh’s marks to demonstrate a similar effect. When I understood Van Gogh’s methods of drawing I came one step closer to understanding how he painted. I resolved to find a connection between my drawings and paintings. It took quite a while to discover but once I did my painting took a massive leap forward. I hope this video will help you foster a unique way of drawing and that your newfound drawing style will foster a unique way of painting. Brad Teare –January 2019 Supplies used in this video: Montana Empty markers Golden Colors High Flow Acrylic Black Golden Colors High Flow Acrylics White Molotow Acrylic Markers white Molotow Acrylic Markers black
–SIXTEEN years ago I read an art instruction book that recommended making color charts. I used artist tape to mark off the swatches on canvas panels and mixed up my paint. After the swatches on the color charts dried, I attempted to use them in my painting procedure. But for some reason, the charts seemed irrelevant, and I rarely used them. When I was moving into my new studio, I rediscovered the charts in the corner of my closet. I placed them on a shelf underneath my wall easel. With the charts nearby, I found I began to refer to them as I planned the color for my paintings. With a modest amount of planning, I found I was avoiding color clichés, and my color became more varied and vibrant.
As prescribed in the book each chart used a single color which I mixed with all the others colors on my palette. I would then add this mixture with white. The colors shifted from left to right as I added other hues. The swatches shifted in value from top to bottom as I added white. Initially, I didn’t understand the purpose of doing color studies. Much like doing value studies you have to have faith. You have to believe the process will produce results–without short-term evidence. I can’t explain why doing value or color studies results in better paintings. You have to keep experimenting with a principle even though you see minimal results. In some cases, the hoped-for breakthrough happens after months of seemingly nonproductive experimentation. This process can be challenging to explain to the beginning painter. If I were to graph the progress of such experimentation, it would be a hockey stick. It would show months of no progress followed by an instantaneous rise in ability. HOW I USE COLOR CHARTS I almost always do a watercolor sketch before I transfer my design to canvas. The quick sketch allows me to imagine the chromatic direction the painting will take. I select colors by asking a series of questions. What emotional effect am I trying to achieve? What colors will be in opposition to the primary color? What harmonious accents will complement those main colors? To clarify my thinking, I shuffle through my color charts. Such a review breaks up habitual color mixtures allowing me to select basic colors. Do I want to mix my greens around a base of Burnt Sienna and Thalo Blue? Or would a base of Cadmium Yellow Light and Ultramarine Blue be more appealing? The pause to consider the basic colors allows me to simplify and harmonize. After selecting basic colors, I sketch in my watercolor sketchbook. I then dash in the planned colors. It can be difficult to discipline myself to use only the colors I have preselected. But the results prove to be well worth it. Finally, I have to carry the discipline over to my oil palette. I keep both the watercolor study and the relevant color charts handy. The inconvenience of adhering to a plan is outweighed by positive results. By combining color charts with watercolor sketches, you can avoid routine colors schemes. If you need a good watercolor set for doing sketches I highly recommend this versatile, inexpensive kit. The commercial color swatches in the photo can be found here. Brad Teare, November 2018
–I published a new instructional video with Gumroad(see preview below). They provide the best download speeds and easiest purchasing options (Paypal or credit card). The one hour and 27-minute video is downloadable to any device, allows complete access, and comes with a convenient satisfaction guarantee. Please note that you do need to download the free Gumroad app if you are downloading to an iPad or other tablet. In the video, I add red as a modifying color to a landscape painting. Many classic American Impressionists would add red to their pigments to give an overall harmony as well as using red to shift color along the spectrum between yellow and blue. They would use yellow to warm a color and blue to cool it. It’s a fascinating way to amp up your color. I was so happy with the results I have used it exclusively since this painting.
I filmed the video in my new studio. The sound is excellent due to my new lav mic and good studio acoustics. I used all new recording equipment. New to my process is the use of multiple camera angles to show the exact colors I mix on the palette to apply to the canvas. That was a missing feature in my Youtube videos. I think viewers will appreciate the upgrade. The entire video has live commentary or added voice over to give viewers the best educational experience possible. What you will learn in this video: -How to achieve bright, rich color using broken, or vibrational, color -How to achieve a variety of effects with broken color -Why adding red to colors works to unify and modify color -How to use a palette knife effectively -Which palette knives to use to get certain effects -How to apply multiple layers of color over the top of each other
I hope you will give the video a try. Please note that if you rent the video you can download it at any time within a 30-day span, but once you download it you have to watch it within 72 hours. Please leave comments in the comment section below. I appreciate your help to make these videos even better in the future. Many thanks for your support.
–MANITOU Galleries suggested I make a short video giving collectors a view into my studio and my process. I filmed a five-minute segment showing my new studio as well as the basics of my oil painting process. Go here to watch the video.
The sound quality was good in the new studio as was the lighting (which was all natural). The lav mic worked well and it was a good test for my upcoming Teachable videos which I hope to get online before Christmas. Hope you enjoy the video.
–IT has been a lifelong ambition to get gallery representation in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is the third largest art market in the world and the primary market for the kind of textured impressionism that I do. Due to a series of fortuitous events I recently connected with Manitou Galleries which has a gallery on Canyon Road and another near the Plaza on Palace Avenue (where my works are currently exhibited). If you are in Santa Fe I hope you will drop by and take a look. Both of the Manitou galleries are excellent and I’m honored to be included in their roster of amazing artists. Brad Teare –June 2018
–WHY do some people love art and others seem unmoved by it? I’m always interested in the reaction of people who visit our home. Our living room has art hanging from floor to ceiling. Some people don’t even notice–which always intrigues us since our collection (which includes an original work by Carl Bloch) is such a prominent part of the room.
I’ve always assumed that with enough persuasion nearly anyone could be convinced that life with art would be superior to one devoid of art (read my five reasons to collect art here). Despite straining my persuasive abilities to the limit I don’t think I’ve persuaded anyone to collect art. It seems that needle is very difficult, if not impossible, to move.
I recently stumbled across a fascinating video about creativity from an artistic and psychological perspective. The ideas presented were compelling and explained some of the reasons that art appeals to some and not others. I do believe that creativity expresses itself in a broad spectrum. A neighbor had an incredible gift for fixing engines. The friend who built my studio had a remarkable gift for solving building problems as well as reaching an aesthetic mark with a limited budget.
So I know that creativity can manifest itself in a variety of ways. The following video of an interview with Jordan Peterson, makes many points, such as; if you genuinely like art you are probably creative. Or; art embodiestremendous beauty and continued revelation. As well as; people are terrified of art because it speaks of the ultimate depths. And my favorite, art is exploration. (Watch the video here. Note that the audio improves at 1 minute.)
Additionally, Jordan Peterson mentions a book,Genius, by Hans Eysenck, about the nature of the creative personality that promises to be worth reading (Deb, if you are reading this post this would make a great Christmas present!)
I will continue to be an advocate for art while understanding the limitations of such efforts. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did.
–A few readers who were unable to attend the Persistence of Vision Show requested I upload some footage. I forgot to film opening night but we had a large, enthusiastic crowd. Many thanks to all who attended. Go here for more Cypher info. The video below is an overview of the 28 pieces in the show with voiceover commentary by myself and my brother Steve. I hope you enjoy it. The show is up until May 25, 2018, so if you get a chance be sure to drop by Alpine Art in Salt Lake City.
“Out of the fires of desire and despair are forged all the formerly irreconcilable opposites of paradox.” –Cypher –OVER the last two decades, I have been trying to combine the seemingly irreconcilable worlds of woodcut and oil painting. In my latest show, opening tomorrow (April 20, 2018) at Alpine Art in Salt Lake City, I demonstrate the fusion of those paradoxical art forms. Tonight, between 6 and 8, I will give a talk about the art and process of the 28 pieces included in the show. I hope to see you there. Many of the pieces have a QR code attached which add a deeper level of context to the pieces. For those unable to attend I embed the videos below.
The last video (above) was filmed on April 5, 2016, over two years ago. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to mount a show of paintings based entirely on imagery from my graphic novel but the technical means had not presented themselves. It took two years of rumination and one week of exposure to new ideas to finally move forward with the show. I’m extremely proud of the show and hope you will be able to drop by for a visit. It will be on display until May 25, 2018. Brad Teare –April 2018 Above: Your Move, 48″ x 24″, acrylic markers on canvas, available at Alpine Art.