What’s up in the saturday class…Palette knife painting

Art Techniques for Dummies Blog Online Art Lessons

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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 as well as tiny shapes of 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 atop the inside of all four fingers—do not grip it too hard. 
  • The trick of pallette 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.

  • 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)

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

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