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Gene Underwood

Mixed Reactions


Oil on gessoed board


  • 10 x 8 inches, framed to 12 x 10 inches, Black wood floater frame – $300

Mercer was keen on how years of toolmaking in each craft have resulted in the design of efficient, comfortable shapes, and I think about that in relation to my tools. For a painter, daily-used tools include the palette knife for mixing oil colors and a glass plate serving as a palette.

Whenever I use the palette knife, I think about its smart offset design that allows for mixing colors without fingers getting in the way, and how its tapered metal blade is sensitive to wrist flicks and scraping, squashing down to meld the colors into a new shade, and then pulling into a pile. One day I thought “I should paint how this looks, I look at it so often.” I like how realistic painting is all about creating the illusion of how things appear. So I find it humorous how I used the tools shown to make a painting of them.

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