William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

# 94 - Contrast of Styles




Fellow Art Lovers:

If you’ve been following my work, you’ve surely noticed that I use several different styles or tools for painting: Generally for landscapes in Normandy, I tend to use a palette knife pretty often; and for Philadelphia urban scenes, more often than not I tend to use brushes. Also, in the past few years, I’ve built up my courage and combined the two, because each tool has its own special contributions and there are good reasons to combine them.   

In the last two paintings I produced in Normandy this past summer, I painted one of each – one exclusively with brushes and one exclusively with a palette knife – to see how much impact and emotion I can squeeze out of each method. 



“View from the Castle at Cruelly (above)." The castle of Cruelly is a beautiful structure, and I believe I’ve sketched it several times, although I don’t believe I’ve ever painted the castle itself. But what attracts me a lot is the view of the valley to the west of the castle, with its open fields, the rows of trees, the two smaller structures, the stunning sky and the Norman cows grazing in the field. 

I took the approach of a bit of realism along with some impressionistic freedom.  The three painting sessions of several hours each I spent on the stone veranda attached to the western side of the castle were blessed with sunlight and curious visitors with respect for my work. I love talking with passers-bye while I paint, when they make concise and insightful comments. And, as usual, once I made some decisions about my approach and I felt fully involved in the painting, my right hand didn’t need much instruction. I will admit, however, that I did get a little prissy when I worked on the Norman cows, because I want to make sure they were recognizable in all their glory relaxing in the shade of the nearby trees.    


“Cabins on the Beach at Saint Aubin” (above). I can’t count the number of times I painted the beach at Saint Aubin – certainly more than a dozen. But this time was different. I wanted a different approach that give me the greatest freedom to let me get the most out of my palette knife. (A secret: I have maybe a dozen palette knives, but I have a favorite that I used most of the time.) 

My approach was to simplify the scene, so that I could use the knife to enhance the painting’s surface and make it as interesting as possible. The aspects of the scene on the beach were ideal – with the sky, the rough tide hitting the beach, the jutting slice of land in the fog in the distance, and the white cabin in the foreground. One of the advantages of my palette knife is that I can work over the same section several times to add different colors without their purity blending into the initial paint layer. 

And in some instances, it’s surprising how much detail you can achieve with a palette knife.  But you have to be careful. Once, in a painting-supply store in Paris, I thumbed through a book about painting with palette knives, and the author’s approach was to try to do the kind of painting with a palette knife that you’d do with brushes. That’s not my approach, and I consider her approach wrong. For me, painting with a palette knife is a different experience, and the result you achieve can have a different kind of impact. The strategy is to use the knife for what it is best at.   

I don’t know which painting is the winner, if there is one. Each one should bring out the best possible with the tools I used. So here I’d like to ask for your help. If you have the time, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for listening. 

Best, 

Bill 






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