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Oil: Palette knife seascape

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Time of execution: 4 hours    Drying time: 6 months  Level: difficult  Artist: Delphine Priollaud-Stoclet




- Medium: Artcréation cotton canvas mounted on frame

- Colors: Pebeo Huile Fine XL

Cadmium yellow, cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, magenta, sap green, yellow ocher, raw umber, burnt umber, Payne's gray, black, titanium white

- Accessories: rectified spirits of turpentine, White Spirit, bleached linseed oil, Courtrai siccative

- Pencils and paintbrushes: 1 charcoal, 2 flat boar bristle brushes (Pebeo), 1 medium painting knife (Pebeo 3026), 1 Fine Touch Palette Knife (Talens 3007)


  • Accessories: 1 kneaded eraser, 1 natural sponge, 1 palette, 1 pipette, 4 cans (for holding additives while working), 2 rags


Sketching the subject.

Use a light hand to quickly draw the major lines and masses of your subject with charcoal. Don't linger on details: you will refine them when adding color.

In case of error: use the kneaded eraser.

Step 2

Painting the major masses.

Add Payne's gray to your palette. Dip your brush in turpentine, then load it with color. Brush quickly onto your drawing, leaving some areas untouched. Allow to dry a few minutes.


Tip: if the brush drips, make sure to wipe it off on a rag.

Step 3

Creating a color under-layer.

Prepare an additive mixture of 2/3 spirits of turpentine and 1/3 linseed oil. Dip the brush in the mixture, load it, then apply your colors straightforwardly and homogeneously. Do not work on details. Between each color: clean your paintbrush in White Spirit and wipe it off.

  • Sky: cerulean blue + titanium white.
  • Clouds: titanium white + Payne's gray.
  • Sea: sap green + a hint of ultramarine blue. (to make lighter: a hint of titanium white; to make darker, a dash of Payne's gray.)
  • Foam: titanium white.

- Sand: yellow ocher + titanium white for the light parts; yellow ocher + raw umber + burnt umber for the more sustained areas and the cast shadows.

- Rocks: raw umber + black + a hint of burnt umber (for the dark parts).

Allow to dry 24 to 48 hours.

Step 4

Prepare colors.

Use all the colors listed. Place dabs of paint on the palette without skimping on quantity: the palette knife technique requires a lot of paint. Use a pipette to add a few drops of Courtrai siccative to each color and mix with the palette knife. Wipe your palette knife off between each color.

Tip: if you still have paint left over at the end of your session, cover your palette with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. Make sure to take your palette out several hours before going back to work on your piece.

Step 5

Doing the sky.

You will be blending colors directly on the canvas, by layering and shifting around layers of paint. Load the back of your palette knife with the desired colors and deposit them: press down lightly to spread them (apply the same pressure for each layer), as though you were applying a coating, with wide, smooth strokes. Wipe your palette knife off between each color.

  • Brighten the step 3 mixture with a dash of yellow ocher.
  • Work on the clouds, applying dashes of white to the bright parts. Darken them with layers of Payne's gray, magenta and burnt umber. Sculpt them with the tip of your palette knife, pushing the underlying colors out of the way.
  • Finish by adding white highlights: do not mix them with the preceding layers.

Trick of the trade

Are your colors cloudy and muddy from all the layering and repetitions? Scrape them off completely with the blade and start over again.

Step 6

Doing the rocks and beach.

  • Dip the palette knife in the yellow ocher and add a hint of raw umber: apply in long, very level strokes.
  • Apply spots of burnt umber to suggest the masses of rocks.
  • Intensify the shadows with a mixture of burnt umber and black.
  • Use the tip of the palette knife to scatter a few shadows on the beach: Payne's gray and raw umber. Press down harder to make the previous layer reappear.

- Scrape the paint down to the canvas in certain places in the foreground: this will create a pebbly texture.
Carve a few rough lines in the thick paint.

Step 7

Doing the sea and waves.

Use the same colors as in step 3. Add hints of sap green to certain areas. Apply small, punctiform strokes in the direction of the waves. Use the edge of the blade to shape the paint and redraw the waves.

Note: the sky and sea need to be differentiated. To do so, draw a line in the fresh paint with the side of a large blade palette knife.

For the spray: delicately deposit white titanium in fairly thick layers, sculpting and softening the edges.

Step 8

Creating droplets of spray.

Gently dab the spray with a natural sponge. Still working with the sponge, add a little white to the edges without pressing too hard, to suggest dispersing droplets. Finish off with spatterings of titanium white: load two brushes with white, dip them in linseed oil and rub them together.

When you've finished, make sure to carefully clean your knives and paintbrushes with a rag moistened with white spirit or spirits of turpentine. Allow your seascape to dry at least six months before varnishing it.

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