Melissa McKinnon: Artist

Melissa McKinnon is a Contemporary Canadian Landscape Artist living and painting in Calgary, AB.

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How To Paint Poppy Flowers with Acrylic Paint and a Palette Knife, Simple Step-By-Step Tutorial.

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How To Paint Poppy Flowers with Acrylic Paint and a Palette Knife, Simple Step-By-Step Tutorial.

I have had several people ask about my painting process and I thought I’d share it on my blog. I love to paint with bold color and thick impasto texture. Impasto painting is defined as “a way of applying paint, specifically a thick, textured application of paint where the marks made by the brush or painting knife stay visible”. In order to achieve this effect, you must thicken your paint.

I use a combination of acrylic paint and a heavy body acrylic gloss gel medium, approximately a 50-50 ratio. The gel medium thickens the paint allowing me to sculpt it onto the canvas using a series of palette knives creating a thick texture that is characteristic of my work. It mixes well with all colors and gives the paint a glossy sheen. Matte gel is also available but will give your painting a dull, matte finish.

How I created my newest poppy series of paintings, step-by-step:

The fist layer of paint is applied straight out of the tube with out the gel medium.

How to paint a sky and clouds with acrylic paint.

Next I mix gel medium with titanium white and apply in thick layers to create cloud shapes across the sky.

How to paint a sky and clouds with acrylic paint and a palette knife.

Next I load my palette knife and with broad gestural strokes apply the paint thickly to give the impression of a grassy field. I tend to work quickly building up the foreground in multiple layers from dark to light and cool to warm to create depth and variety in the painting. Here are the first few layers of color:

How to paint a grass field with acrylic paint.

Now the fun part, painting the poppy flowers. I use a combination of straight edge and round palette knives to sculpt the poppy flowers, pushing and pulling the paint to create texture and form. My focus is not to depict the flowers realistically with defined edges but to imply the shape and texture of petals blowing in the breeze.

How to paint poppy flowers with acrylic paint and a palette knife, simple step-by-step tutorial.

Don’t forget to paint the sides of the canvas. You can paint the sides white, black or a complementary color but personally I love having my image wrap around the sides of the canvas so the viewer can see the image from all sides. The paintings look fabulous hanging as-is directly on the wall, a very contemporary look that suits any home décor. I use professional quality canvas mounted on 1-1/2” stretcher bars, so no framing is needed, although one can be added if desired.

Series of red poppy flower acrylic paintings.

I then sign the front and back of the painting.

Original acrylic painting signed by artist Melissa McKinnon.

Several days (or weeks later, depending on how thick the paint is applied) once the painting is completely dry, I use a professional quality gloss varnish to protect the painting from dust, dirt and UV rays.

Series of red poppy flower acrylic paintings.

Here is the finished 10 x10 “Remember Me” series!

$125 each or $300 for all 4 in the 10 x 10 “Remember Me” Series.

Please contact me directly if you would like to commission a painting similar. I am happy to work with you to create a beautiful custom work of art!

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Author: Melissa Mckinnon Artist

I am a Canadian artist and mother of two beautiful, spirited and loving girls, living and working in Calgary, Alberta. I love to paint large scale acrylic paintings with vibrant color and thick texture. To see my work, visit my website and blog at: www.melissamckinnon.wordpress.com

2 thoughts on “How To Paint Poppy Flowers with Acrylic Paint and a Palette Knife, Simple Step-By-Step Tutorial.

  1. Hi my name is Gunter Wartmann an i live in Brockville Ontario . I do like your style of flower ! I myself paint wildflower with Casein ( Tempera ) Acrylic is as i know, forgiving , Casein is not . There is no correcting by over-painting . You can ad , but you can not take away . Greetings, E. G. Wartmann

  2. I’d like to have a DVD of floral knife painting. Love your poppies.

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