Tuesday, July 24, 2012


The 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 as well as tiny shapes of color.
Although there is a difference between a painting knife and a palette knife, many people use the terms interchangeably. The main difference is, that it's not a brush that you're using to paint with.

Strictly speaking, a palette knife is a long, straight blade or spatula that is used for mixing paints and scraping a palette clean, not for applying paint onto a canvas. A palette knife can be made from metal, plastic, or wood and will either be completely straight or have a slightly cranked (bent) handle.
Painting knives have the advantage of palette knives of coming in a range of sizes, more angular shapes, and with sharper points. Plus the larger crank in the handle means there's less chance of accidentally rubbing your knuckles into wet paint.

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.

The Cliffs of Moher painting was done with a palette knife, very little brush work was done on the painting.

The Temple Bar painting was also painted with a palette knife as well.
Most of my paintings have an undercoat done with a brush, using very lean oil base paint. Enough to cover the canvas where color is needed.

After painting has dried, then the palette knife us used to create the painting from that point forward to finish the painting. Very little brush work is needed. Palette knife painting is thick and takes a lot of paint. The painting will then look like an impressionist painting. Lots of texture.  I think this is one of my favorite ways to paint an oil painting. 

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