Love Letters: To the Palette Knife.

As I'm sure you will have seen from previous posts in this project - throughout February, we invited various creatives to write a letter to something / someone they love as part of our Love Letter series. As we're coming to the end of the project, the broad depth and wide expanse of love in all its' glorious forms as been an absolute joy to witness. It's been wonderful to see the commonalities in our love letters and in our lives. We've celebrated our creative community, and offered words of encouragement to soon-to-be graduates. We've found joy in routine, and an appreciation for nature. We've sent love to our faithful creative tools including dungarees, the humble pen, and now the palette knife.


Admittedly, coming from a graphic design + illustration background, I've never used a palette knife. To me, it's always been one of those slightly intimidating tools that "only real painters would use". Off limits to the inexperienced or so it would seem. Our first love letter to the palette knife by Rose Owen has given me a renewed hope that perhaps it is not so intimidating.


By her own description, "Rose Owen is a scientist who’s experiments tend to be spontaneous and lacking in method. Her most recent experiment involved picking up a palette knife and splodging/ stabbing/ smacking blobs of acrylic paint on a canvas and calling it art."



This is her love letter is to her palette knife.


"Dear palette knife,


How overlooked you were in my previous life. I would choose the slender brush or the strong pastel over picking you. I would search for smooth strokes of paint or long ink lines, without even considering how you would spread the colour. Then one day you winked at me. The sun glistening over your metal tip. And you said “Pick me! And if it all goes to shit- at least you can say it was done with a palette knife!” - And they lived happily ever after."


An ode to how curiosity in creative practice can yield wonderful results. Lest we forget how it feels to give ourselves over fully to the process without worrying about results. The incredible feeling of not giving a fuck about whether this is "good" or not - just curiosity, experimentation, and ultimately freedom. You just never know - that new thing you're trying out might become your favourite practice going forward, which certainly seems to be the case for our next artist, Naomi McClure.


An incredibly talented artist, Naomi McClure is a working artist based in Aberdeen, having graduated from Grays' in 2019 with a degree in painting. She states "my artistic process involves finding a balance between the conceptual idea and the physical form: focusing more on shapes, layered surface and manipulated perspective. Ultimately, my paintings express fragments of my imagination and interpretations of imagined spaces and dark narratives."


"My love letter is to this wee palette knife.


It’s mucky, old and covered in so much paint I haven’t seen the actual surface of the blade in a long time. Each layer of paint clinging to it is a reminder of what I’ve created, and how far I’ve come. It’s also a little reminder to keep on going. We all need these small reminders, especially now. Since 2018, I’ve used it on every painting I’ve created, leaving me with an odd attachment to this grubby old thing. Well, here’s to my trusty palette knife: one of my most loyal friends."


Thank you to both of these wonderful artists for submitting their love letters to this wee project! And thank you to you for reading.


Kirsty xo


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