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Beauty in the Ordinary

Reds and Greens: Elk Creek Red Barn


Another painting made using a painting knife! This one is a landscape with a red barn in a green field.

Part of the fun—and challenge—of using a painting knife is how to create edges. Most paintings have a variety of edges, such as a hard, soft and and lost (where the edges of shapes of adjacent are not visible to the eye). This painting has examples of all three: the horizon line is a hard edge, the mid-ground where the green merges into the brown is soft, and right side shadow of the barn that disappears into the distant hill is a lost edge.

It is somewhat easy to create the hard straight edge since the painting knife is just that: hard and straight. It gets more interesting to create the other two: how to use that same tool to apply the paint where the edges merge or disappear. The simplest solution is to move the paint directly on the canvas by pushing it around—challenge becomes fun. It’s a bit like when we were children and loved playing in the mud!

Of course, prior to deciding how to paint an edge is noticing what type it is—hard, soft or lost. When looking at any scene, it can be fun and enlightening to notice these different types of edges. One more practice of artful awareness!

Elk Creek Red Barn, original oil on canvas, 14″ x 8″

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Original oil painting by Seamus Berkeley