The All Inclusive Guide How to Paint With Palette Knife

May 31, 2020

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Palette Knife Basics

Palette knives are not just for mixing your paints. There are so many ways you can use a palette knife to create a gorgeous masterpiece. So many different effects can be made using a palette knife that can’t be done with a standard brush. The unique effects you can create with a palette knife is what makes me absolutely obsessed with the technique.

The Pros And Cons Of The Palette Knife

Pros:
 Who doesn’t hate cleaning brushes??? With palette knives the clean up is so easy! I use a tissue or paper towel and all the paint is gone.
 Depending on the quality of the palette knife you can get some for very cheap.
 They last a very long time so long as you wipe them right after using.
 Palette knives are great for building up a thick texture and creating a broken color effect.
 Sharp lines are easily created by using the edge of a palette knife.
 You can palette paint on top of wet layers and not worry about the paint blending (like it does with your brush).
Cons:
 You cannot paint with as much accuracy using a palette knife. I will use palette knives for modern paintings that require less accuracy and detail.
 It’s not as versatile as a brush.
What to Look For In A Palette Knife
 A flexible but sturdy blade.
 A good handle.

Palette Knife Shapes


There are many shapes one can buy a palette knife in. You do not need any unusual shapes. I have tried multiple funny shapes and I found that I went back to the original diamond shape knife 95% of the time! I would recommend sticking to the standard diamond shape in different sizes.

Palette Knife Techniques

Thin lines
There are so many ways to paint with palette knife! You can use the palette knife to create thin, usually broken lines. All you need to load the edge of the palette knife with paint and then dab the edge on the canvas. You will usually get one line per stroke, so you will need to keep reloading your palette knife between strokes.

Dragging One Color into Another

I love using palette knife to blend colors when there’s a transition on the canvas. You will get a blended color, but it will be rough and not completely smooth. A brush would create a softer, blended edge.

Scraping Off Paint to Correct Errors and Adding Details

It’s super easy to scrape away mistakes you may have made using a palette knife.Details can be dragged easily using a palette knife. For example, you could drag brown paint from a tree trunk to create thin branches. Just beware that the color underneath will be exposed. Painting the background with a thin coat of paint with a desired color is advisable.

Multi-colored Palette Knife Strokes

This my favorite!! So many of my paintings have multicolored palette knife strokes. It’s so easy to achieve this multicolored look. You just take a few different colors and mix them together but not that well. Then put some of the paint on your palette knife and create a thick stroke.

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Common Uses of The Palette Knife

Here are some of the ways I use the palette knife in my paintings:
 To create waves with texture.
 To build up texture in the foreground.
 To paint the leaves or bark on a tree.
 To quickly cover the canvas with multi colored paint
 To create people who look 3 dimensional
 To paint houses with raised bricks

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General Palette Knife Painting Tips

Here are some general palette knife painting tips:
 Be sure to clean your palette knife after you have finished. If you forget, the paint will dry and your palette knife will be almost worthless (because it will have a rough edge). You may be able to save your palette knife by scraping the dried paint away with a razer.
 Don’t get too habitual with your palette knife strokes. Try to mix things up, like stroke length, color, texture, etc.
 The palette knife can scrape away paint easily
 The palette knife technique sacrifices accuracy and intricacy so try to make up for it with stunning use of color.

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