Part 5, project 1, exercise 1 – impasto

Impasto is the technique of applying paint thickly, often unmixed, with a brush, palette knife, pebble, or other implement. It can either then be left to dry in ridges or blended in situ.

This task was to make three painted sketches ; the first with a brush, the second a palette knife, and the third with detail scratched into the wet paint. These are techniques I like to use although demands to date have meant I’m a bit out of practice and as a result, managed to overlap the the three sections.

This first is relatively straight forward although I did scratch into the paint on all of them with the palette knife. The colours aren’t exactly as I’d wish but then this feels more like an introduction to what might be a new experience for some. On the left is a courgette, an apples, and a plum tomato. I substituted an orange in the second group, having eaten the apple. The tomato is darker than it should be, I have scratched all of them, and courgettes are my favourite because round things seem to defy reproduction. The support is white cartridge prepped with gesso which gives it a nice resistance.


This enthused me and i prepared another sheet (A2) with a mix of white gesso, PVA, and pumice medium for grit. That’s a surface I really like for its roughness and irregularity. The courgette again comes out of this best and I like the way it disintegrates at its margins.


This detail shows the push and pull strokes of the pebble and the clear channels made by scratching with the point of the palette knife. The texture is also clearly visible – it’s like working on sandpaper but much more robust.


I think this tomato fares rather better in close up because the slight indent at the ‘top’ (on the left) is visible. It’s a plum tomato so more oval than round. I used the pebble here to pull back the paint on areas that catch light.


The courgette is a satisfying, to me anyway, mix of blue, green, yellow, and red which allowed to exposure of sub layers in the scraping/scratching process. And that attachment end on the right – the ridges made entirely by an absence of paint.


Colour and an impressionistic style seem again to be coming forward as I move through this course.

Note: Scratching = sgraffito

Time taken: approx 3 hours.


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