Pallet Knife Tutorial

How to Paint with a Palette Knife

Painting with a knife is a bit like putting butter or jam on bread and produces quite a different result to a brush. Painting knives are excellent for producing textured Impasto work and sweeping areas of flat color.

Different shaped painting knives obviously produce different effects. For example, a short blade produces angular strokes while a long blade makes it easy to put down sweeps of color. A painting knife with a rounded blade means you’re unlikely to ever accidentally scrape a hole into a canvas, but a you won’t be able to scratch into the paint as effectively for sgraffito effects.


  • Hold the knife so it rests on top the inside of all four fingers—do not grip it too hard.
  • The trick of palette knife painting is to work softly.
  • If you press to hard you will mush the different colours into each other. The result will be mud.

  • The palette knife has  x 3 sides you can work with: The flat part (belly), the side or the tip. Each area will give you a different feel.

  • ALWAYS work from light to dark.
  • Mix your colours before you begin to paint. Using a palette knife will give you a cleaner blend than using a brush.
  • Because oil paints take so long to dry, you can use your palette knife to correct mistakes,
  • Scrape and move paint around the canvas until you are happy with how it looks.
  • There is no rule when it comes to moving the paint around. You can either do it in long flat strokes, (like putting butter on bread), or in short strokes. (almost dabbing the palette knife unto the canvass)

Claude Monet

Art Quote

"Color makes its impact from contrasts rather than from its inherent qualities....the primary colours seem more brilliant when they are in contrast with their complementary colours."

Claude Monet

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