October 2021

Mark Fennel with knives
Mark Fennels painting that was done 2021

Mark Fennell was our demonstrator for this zoom meeting of Bedford Art Society. He showed us how to complete a portrait using a variety of palette knives.

He uses Windsor and Newton paints and he needs a lot of them. His large palette holds the paints which he arranges from dark to light. He showed us the selection of knives which he uses in this work.

To start his demonstration he had paint-sketched a drawing of the face onto a stretched canvas, which gives a bit of spring to his painting. He had added the tones of the features and hair to guide him and then he began by painting in the background and clothes, working from dark to light.

He told us that working on a dry canvas means that the paint slides over the surface when using knives, so it important for him to paint first with a large brush, which prevents him drawing in too much detail. It can take up to four days to complete a portrait using his method.

Once the base painting was completed, he began to use the knives which are difficult to control especially in the amount of paint which they can hold. This method uses a lot of paint and the different shapes of knife give different effects. They range from small and rounded to wide and flat, so many effects can be obtained to add depth and interest to his work.

Diane Bell