Painting with Knives
Harley paints in oils with knives using the 'wet into wet' technique. By using a knife it is possible to layer wet paint on top of wet paint without disturbing the layer underneath, thus maintaining a freshness in the painting.
Knives are ideally suited for use in paintings of architechtural subjects or indeed, for anything which is man made. Harley's knowledge of perspective is apparent in his paintings of city scenes, especially those of a bygone era. All of his paintings are done with just two knives, a large one with a straight edge and a small diamond shaped one. With some of the maritime subjects a small amount of detail is completed with a brush.
He always begins working from the top of the canvas, completing the painting as he works down to the bottom. By using the texture of the paint Harley can convey detail, such as stone walls in a landscape or rough seas in a maritime subject.
For this technique it is imperative that the paint is not allowed to dry, as it is virtually impossible to control the knife as it skids over the ridges of dried paint underneath.
The knives Harley uses for painting are known as palette knives. The blades are usually made from forged steel and are very flexible. The handles are made from hardwood and the blade should extend completely through it.
Of the two types of knife that Harley uses, one is straight and flat. This is used for rapidly filling in the large areas of paint on the canvas by holding the blade almost flat to the canvas. It is also used for creating straight lines on the canvas by holding the blade at an angle of 90 degrees to the canvas surface.
The other knife Harley uses is much smaller and has a cranked shaft with a diamond shaped head. The head is offset from the handle to prevent the artists fingers being dragged through the wet paint on the canvas. Harley uses this knife to add details and relief to his work.