Arts and Crafts

Painting with Knives

Painting with Knives

CS: 26

For this course we are really going to be exploiting the wonderfully expressive nature of oil paint, using painting knives (the cranked handle variety, often wrongly referred to as palette knives), with the absolute minimum of brushwork. If you have ever wished to 'loosen up', now is your chance; it is impossible to be too tight working in this way! Our subject matter will be landscape, seascape and still life subjects. If the weather is kind to us we may also spend some time painting outside in the College grounds.

A key component of this course is gaining an understanding of colour mixing, both on the palette and directly on the board. Using a colour wheel and a limited palette of colours you will learn how to mix colours with confidence – no more mud pies!

We will use water-mixable oils, which behave similarly to traditional oils, yet only water is used to thin the paint and to clean up. This eliminates the need to use thinners, with their associated noxious fumes.

This course will be suitable for students of all levels of experience, including complete beginners. There will be demonstrations at every stage, as well as one-to-one support throughout the week. Examples of the tutor’s and other artists’ work will be displayed and used for analysis and interpretation. Working at your own pace, you will receive sympathetic tuition from an experienced and friendly tutor. All materials and equipment will be provided. NB You may like to bring one or two of your own photographs from which to work, although there will be a large selection available.


Course notes

Applying and manipulating thick, buttery oil paint using only knives is an exciting, direct and highly satisfying way to paint.

Following an initial introduction and demonstration, our first day will be spent learning to mix and apply oil paint with knives to achieve a variety of interesting effects, with a limited palette of colours. This will be our ‘test drive’ day, working on sample 'vignettes'. Mistakes will be easily rectified and overcome.

The rest of the week will be spent building on these initial skills, allowing the student to gain confidence. Working at your own pace and with the benefit of demonstrations, as well as one-to-one tuition, you will work from a variety of still life set-ups, photographic reference material and outdoor subjects, to produce exciting and interesting pictures you will be proud to display at our end of week exhibition in the main court.

Since we may work outside on one of the days, weather permitting, you are advised to bring sun screen and a sun hat (ever the optimist!), but also a jacket or fleece. If you have a small folding chair, that would also be very useful, as the College has only a very limited number of these. All other equipment and painting materials will be supplied. Oil paint is a messy medium so, although aprons are provided, you may prefer to bring a painting shirt, or overall.

Christine is an experienced, friendly and sympathetic tutor, who engenders a hard-working, yet light-hearted atmosphere in her courses.

Please visit Christine's website to view examples of her work:


Marlborough College, Wiltshire SN8 1PA Telephone: 01672 892388