More Knife Painting (in between landscape realism)

My artistic split personality continues, and I’ve been working on both abstracted knife paintings and landscapes lately. It’s not hard to explain the latter: realistic landscape and floral is very comforting and comfortable to me. It lays out right in front of me all of the things I love about the world around me. When I paint a lyrical landscape with beautiful sky and lovely color, my heart feels the joy and appreciates the beauty of my subject.

BUT…the knife paintings are something else. They are like eye candy to me, they are a diversion which is delightful and colorful, and which makes me feel young again.

“Stained Glass World”, 24” x 36”, is my latest fanciful knife painting. It is loaded with thick juicy color and scribbled paint pen lines which give it more pop. This is a detail of the right hand side of the painting.

“Stained Glass World”, 24” x 36”, is my latest fanciful knife painting. It is loaded with thick juicy color and scribbled paint pen lines which give it more pop. This is a detail of the right hand side of the painting.

I love swiping loads of color across a big canvas, and letting the colors barely mix on a knife is so satisfying. I feel that the pure colors are glowing and peeking through my strokes, and I don’t have to worry so much about having to work to keep my colors bright. All in all, knife painting is just a wonderful side jaunt for me, a tension reliever and a way to recapture the joy of painting. Below you can see how I load my knife as I start this particular painting.

It’s quite a challenge, however, to paint layers on top of one another once they’ve begun to dry. In this particular painting, I added extra color and definition by adding lots of bright linear elements with paint pens. I didn’t specifically upload video of that part of the painting process, but you can see the paint pen work if you look for the bold yellow in the cracks in the closeup below.

Knife painted strokes and paint pen marks jostle for room in this detail of my acrylic “Stained Glass World”, 24” x 36”

Knife painted strokes and paint pen marks jostle for room in this detail of my acrylic “Stained Glass World”, 24” x 36”

Here’s the finished painting below:

“Stained Glass World,” 24” x 26” Susan D. Kennedy

“Stained Glass World,” 24” x 26” Susan D. Kennedy

If you feel stuck in realism, or word art, or, well, stuck in any particular genre…buy a painting knife and get swiping! Incidentally, if you’d like to see this painting in my ebay store, it’s here.

Also, I’ve written a short 40-page eBook on exploring abstraction in painting, full of illustrations and a full step-by-step demo. If you’d like to flip through a preview of it, you can click “look inside” on its Kindle Store page.

or look at its listing here on my website. Thanks for looking!

My New EBook on Abstracts

I write art eBooks as a hobby, and just finished my 40-page booklet on inspiration for (and prompts for) painting abstracts. I’m so happy! I love this style and expressiveness of abstraction, and even though I will probably always swing back and forth between abstraction and realism, I think you’ll really enjoy this book. Here is the book on Amazon and below is the Introduction. It’s frequently free, (and always is, to Kindle Unlimited subscribers). Also, please click on the link at the end of the book to give me an honest review.

Discovering Abstract Painting

How I Found a new Way to Paint in Oil and Acrylic

©2019 Susan D. Kennedy | Website | Ebooks

Chapter One – Three Springboards

Chapter Two – 7 Exercises

Chapter Three – Demonstration


All of the paintings used as illustrations in this eBook were done by the author, Susan Kennedy (me!)



Abstract Painting means many things to many people. Usually people mean “very loosely painted” or “expressionist” or “non-representational” when they say, “Abstract Painting”. At times, I use “abstract” with these different meanings even though they are not mutually exclusive, and I believe that what they have in common is a desire on the part of the artist to give color, composition, or feeling a higher

This painting, titled “Courage, Dear Heart,” is a story of hope and journey through difficulty, with better times ahead. Its title refers to Aslan’s words to Lucy in The Dawn Treader.

priority, over literal representation of a subject.

After an extended time (almost 25 years) working in realism, I reached a place in which I was painting the same things again and again and they became less meaningful to me. I’m not sure why this happened; maybe it had to do with teaching realism and doing the same demonstrations again and again. Maybe it was that I had become lazy and bored and didn’t look for fresh work.

At any rate, I began to feel that painting realistic florals and landscapes was simply another form of, well - photography. I felt (in my own case) that I was merely reporting on what things looked like instead of telling a story or an interpretation of reality with my brushstrokes.

My interest in abstraction led me down many artistic side roads, and in this painting, I was experimenting with paint pens and markers to color an acrylic abstract.

I turned to abstraction, and here I hope to describe things which began to inspire me in painting abstracts. I hope that these ways of thinking can help you, too.

I’ll share my thoughts about getting an idea for an abstract from nature (an “abstracted landscape”)…

from thought or feeling (an abstract expressionist painting)…

or simply from a desire to explore exciting colors and textures (what I might call a decorative abstract).

These have all been abstract starting-points I have explored in the last ten years, after many years of focusing exclusively on realism (which, by the way,I have come to love again).

Perhaps your abstract paintings will flow from one of these three “springboards.” Whatever your painting path, give yourself time to practice: you wouldn’t expect to become a computer instructor or a judo expert in a week! It is the same with painting. Many of my students from the past were very impatient with their progress and gave up easily when a given painting turned out differently than they had imagined. I encourage you to accept a slow journey and intermittent progress as part of the process of becoming a painter!

This painting is one of my abstracts which fits into an “imaginary landscape” category. I love creating a sense of distance and a rich palette of colors to make the viewer wonder about where this place is and what is happening there

This eBook has three chapters. In chapter one I will discuss the three “springboards” or starting points for my own abstracts, which may help to think about abstracts in a coherent way. In chapter two I’ll show you my seven exercises designed to give inspiration and experience with painting in abstract ways.

You will see some of the knife painting strokes I used to paint this scene  in chapter two of this book.

Some of the exercises in this second chapter choose one of these three abstract categories.

In chapter three I will show you a fun repurposing project: I take an old textured painting which I didn’t wish to finish – and painted an abstracted landscape on top of it with acrylics and acrylic inks.

There is a video link at the beginning of that chapter which takes you to a YouTube video of the painting of this abstract. Below the link is a breakdown of my steps, with photos of the painting as it progresses.

purple abstrcr.jpg