7x12 Challenge No. 1 - New Tool, Palette Knives

palette knives and paint

My first 7x12 Challenge of the year, done! ✔️ Just 11 more to go! :) Inspired by the new year, my first prompt was to pick a new tool to experiment, learn, and play with! I chose palette knives. Here's how the seven days went and you can also watch a short video about it here...


Learning how to use palette knives in a week

I decided not to look up any directions, tutorials, or tips on how to use them for day 1. I wanted my first interaction with the knives to be instinctual and intuitive, to go in with no preconceived ideas on how it's "supposed" to work and just experiment! Using acrylic paints, I covered a page in my sketchbook using the knives as many different ways as I could: scraping, wiggling, creating texture, mixing colors. It was so fun getting a feel for them and how they work. So different from what I'm used to (it reminds me of icing cakes actually!) and so many possibilities! Here's a short process video.


Learning how to use palette knives in a week

I spent the night before studying aka watching YouTube videos :) and learning different techniques and ways to utilize the knives. For day 2 I tried some of these out. My favorites were 1) how the knives can blend the paints so effortlessly and creating a beautiful ombre look and 2) that they can easily make very thin and straight lines!


Learning how to use palette knives in a week

A friend on Instagram suggested I check out Nelly Lestrade's work and I saw she had tutorials on YouTube--I wanted to try this one because in addition to the knives, she uses her hands AND plastic bags to paint! It's been a long time since I followed a lesson but it was so easy getting immersed in it. When I first started I was really skeptical mine would look like anything like Nelly's but I am happy with the results considering this was my first try! And the trees were really cool to create with scrunched up plastic bags! I have always gravitated towards abstract art but this was a nice change of pace--it made me want to try painting more things based on a subject. Here's a little TikTok of this one and process pics above.


Learning how to use palette knives in a week

This rose tutorial by Katie Jobling also caught my eye so I decided to give it a try--twice! I know some artists paint the same thing over and over again until they are happy with the results and I wanted to take another stab at it after I had gone through it once and was more familiar. I LOVED how the colors turned out--I never thought mixing the orange I had with white would turn into such pretty shades of pinks and mauve. Another thing that stood out for me from this lesson was how Katie added gold and some yellow into her black background. I loved how it gave the black more dimension and interest. I made this time-lapse video of my second attempt, the song is La Vin En Rose sung by Ashley Park, one of my favorites! Above are photos of both attempts (I think I like the composition in #2 better).


Learning how to use palette knives in a week

I wanted to wrap up this challenge by trying to paint something on my own, without a tutorial! This floral image from Unsplash immediately caught my eye. I knew it was going to be tough but that's what I'm supposed to be doing, pushing and challenging myself! It did remind me of the rose with the dark background but the colors and types of flowers would be knew. I ended up taking 2 days for this because after the first day, I felt like it wasn't done but I needed to take a break! I wasn't very happy with it (I think a lot of the paints I was using were too runny which wasn't helping!) and thought fresh eyes the next morning would help. I ended up re-doing the background and adding more to each of the flowers. It might not be perfect but I'm really happy I tried it and I was able to create this!


I learned so much during these past 7 days, went outside of my comfort zone to try things I never would've done, added a new tool to my kit, and felt so excited everyday to work on these pages! That feeling really confirms for me that it was the right decision to try this idea out this year :)

If you feel inspired to create some 7 day challenges of your own, I totally think you should go for it! Feel free to borrow my prompts or make your own. I'd love to hear what you plan on doing! You can also always email me updates or tag me on Instagram @atiliay and use the hashtag #7x12challenge. 

I can't wait for February's challenge and to share more about it with you--stay tuned!

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