What is A Palette Knife

painting with a palette knife2What is A Palette Knife?

Palette knife is a blunt tool used for mixing or applying paint, with a flexible steel blade. It is primarily used for mixing paint colors, paste, etc., or for marbling, decorative end papers, etc. The “palette” in the name is a reference to an artist’s palette which is used for mixing oil paint and acrylic paints.

I like to think of it as a tool that is used to apply paint in thick layers different than a paint brush. With the palette knife you have more control with the paint and creating texture. I always say it’s like adding icing on a cake but with a little bit more fun.

My favorite palette knife is a basic simple medium size knife that has a pointed tip. I like it because I have more control with it. It’s not too big and doesn’t get in the way when I am trying to paint small tight areas. I usually paint 11X14 to 16X20 sized paintings so it works perfectly for those sizes. The picture above is the size palette knife that I mostly used. Different brands label the same size knife differently.

This one is a Royal Langnickel Palette Knife LP-3 were as other brands may labeled  the same size palette knife with a number of some sort. Anyhow, this image should give you an idea the size that I normally used.  For bigger sized paintings I used larger palette knifes to cover a larger area on the canvas more quickly.

If you are interested in learning about color and how to mix color like a pro, click on the banner below. My friend Will Kemp is an excellent teacher on color theory and can teach you about mixing color  in one weekend.  You will learn how to make your paintings pop with this easy to learn course.

To learn more about how to paint with a palette knife, and other great painting tips, sign up for the exclusive Palette Knife Painting Tutorial newsletter.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Fran Marburgh / aka Yvette Snow February 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Hi there:
Just wondered if you only use metal palette knives or do you use the plastic ones too? Is there a huge difference between the two as far as application and finished product? I stay in the 11×14 – 16×20 sizes as well, but want to venture out into the bigger canvases and have thought about using a palette knife on the entire work. Right now I am using the plastic jsut due to cost, but have no qualms about using the metal ones if you find that those are better in the long run.

Thanks !!

admin February 14, 2012 at 4:32 am

Hi Fran
Yep, I mostly use a metal palette knife when I paint. I have used plastic ones as well but because I used so much movement and texture when I paint, sometimes the plastic palette knives break. So I really prefer using the metal palette knives simply because they don’t break when I use them. You can accomplish the same thing, it’s just that when I used them and the way that I used palette knives the metal palette knives works best with my style of painting.

As far as the size of canvases that I have used, I have painted paintings as big as 36X48 using the palette knife. There’s not much of a difference. You just need to use a bigger palette knife when you paint on a larger scale so it want take as long to paint your painting.

I say go for it and if you are worring about spending money on larger canvases use wood. Just add gesso and start painting on plywood or scrap wood. I do it all the time.

I hope this was helpful. Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have about using the palette knife.

Thanks
Ahmad
P.S. Just Paint!!!

toni okujeni August 29, 2013 at 2:56 am

hi. I am thrilled about this site on palette knife painting and really determined learn new things and update my style. keep it up and thanks. toni

Leave a Comment