logo canson
logo canson

Tutorials and artistic advices

Oil: Palette knife painting

Twitter icon

Rate this article

Have you gotten the hang of your paintbrushes? To try something new, switch to painting knives!

 

What you need to know

When you use a painting knife, you are pressing paint impastos onto the support: this produces flat, smooth surfaces edged with lines and raised contours.

The appearance of each stroke depends on:

  •  the amount of paint
  •  the amount of pressure
  •  the direction of the stroke
  •  the shape of the palette knife

 

1. Applying paint with a palette knife

 

Note!  When working with a palette knife, you need to apply the paint vigorously and confidently. Just one piece of advice: practice, practice, practice!

 

Deciphering gesture

Step 1: mix your colors with a palette knife.

  • Roughly mix the colors together.
  • Tamp the paste down for a homogeneous mixture.
  • Scrape the mixture with a palette knife.
  • Spread it on the palette.

Repeat the process as you would for mixing plaster until you have the desired consistency.

Step 2: pick up some paint on the back of your palette knife.

Step 3: press the knife onto the canvas, slightly raising one of the edges of the palette knife, like buttering bread.

 

That little extra: make sure you always have a roll of paper towels at your fingertips to clean the palette knife between each coat of color.

 

2. Drawing with a palette knife

 

You can draw with the tip and edge of a palette knife.

With the edge

  • Mark some lines in the fresh paint with the edge of the palette knife
  • Draw lines by applying paint with the edge of the knife.

With the tip

  • Sculpt some details in the fresh paint with a narrow-point palette knife.
  • Leave round traces (representing tiles or scales) with a round tip palette knife.
  • Represent details by applying color with the tip.

Start off with just 3 painting knives: one with a fairly wide blade for color blocks, a second narrower one with a pointed tip, and a third one with a rounded tip.

 

 

Suggested products

Canson® Figueras®


See also

Oil: Finger painting
Peindre au doigt avec la peinture à l'huile
Painting with your fingers isn’t just for kids! Leonardo da Vinci did not shy away from using his to create his famous sfumato. Have a go at this sensual, yet subtle, technique.
Selecting knives and paintbrushes for painting with oils
Choisir couteaux et pinceaux pour peindre à l’huile
Sizes, bristle types and shapes… Palette or painting knife… How do you decide?