Knives Out!

Maybe you’ve seen that movie — Knives Out — with Jamie Lee Curtis. We saw it last fall and enjoyed it. This post, of course, has to do with knives of another sort. Palette knives.

I don’t use palette knives too often in painting. They’re actually intended for mixing paint on an artist’s palette, but they’re also used to apply paint to the canvas.

I like palette knife paintings, but as clumsy as I am, I’ve never been very good at picking up paint and putting it down again with a knife.

In the past, I’ve done only one palette knife painting, and while it was interesting, it wasn’t easy. It was fun, but it definitely turned out “a little rough“.

A few months ago I purchased a new set of palette knives. It’s the five-piece set pictured above. It’s manufactured by Meeden and has an overall favorable rating — nearly 5 stars — at Amazon. The price was reasonable, and I’m happy with the set.

Of course, I don’t do much with them, other than a bit of paint mixing. So, why not try palette knife painting again? That was the method I used for this painting:

Sunlit Waterfall — Palette Knife Painting 8 x 10 Oil on Canvas Panel

This was definitely challenging. I picked up my knives from a lot of different angles. I twisted, I turned, I tried to find the best techniques for applying the paint.

In places my paint was far too thick. In other places I was unintentionally scraping off more paint that I was putting on! Yes, this painting was difficult for me to do, but thankfully, as I continued to work on it, some of my awkwardness went away.

As with all oil painting, I had problems seeing how the painting actually looked — even more so than usual. Normally if I step back from the easel, I can see how the scene is coming together, but with this one, I still struggled, probably because of the dark shades used for the rocks.

I painted the left side first, moved to the sunlit rocks on the right — and I didn’t get all the light in the right places — and finally I finished it all up with the waterfall. At times, when I first began working on it, it was completely unrecognizable, so I’m glad it finally came together.

I did have fun painting this scene, and I do want to work more with my palette knives.

To help me with my painting practices, I browsed around and found this: The Ultimate Guide to Palette Knife Painting. It explains various techniques and offers helpful tips for beginners like me. If you’re interested in learning more about palette knives, you might find the information useful, too.

Whether you’re painting with brushes or knives — or finding other creative ways to apply paint — have fun with your art!


      1. Thank you! I love oil painting! It’s much easier than watercolor, and to me, much easier than acrylics. I was afraid to try it for a long time because I thought it would be really hard. I was surprised once I did it! My advice would be to pick up an inexpensive basic set of oils and a few cheap canvas panels. I buy my practice panels from the children’s art section. The one disadvantage with oils is the toxicity in solvents and cleaners. I’ve avoided that by using the water-soluble oils. You can get a very basic set (Mont Marte is the inexpensive brand I started with) from Amazon. Give it a go! You might like it. πŸ™‚


  1. Excellent waterfall! I can feel the splash-bounce up in the middle shelf pool and the overflow of the spigot on high rushing over the edge to spray splash again. Nice job! Works with eyes open. Works when I squint.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. IT’s a nice piece.The focus is the waterfall and the motion it conveys. The rocks can be secondary, background support. Figure ground. Figure ground. And, I like that the figure is water that is very alive like Neptune or Poseidon intensely making their way back to sea.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. painting with palette knives definitely requires practice and patience. i began using them a few years ago when a bad arthritis flare made it impossible to hold a brush. what started as a workaround developed into a love affair. wishing you much luck as you forge ahead and reap your rewards.

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    1. It’s fun to try using palette knives. I’m never quite sure, though, about where and how to pick up the paint. So I try this… and I try that… and yes, it’s fun. I’ll be doing more palette knife painting in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. in the beginning i started out with small (4″ x 4″) paintings in acrylics. this was manageable. scaling up to a larger format was challenging, as was the difference between supports – watercolor paper vs. canvas. my preference is still watercolor paper.

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    1. Thank you. Even with brushes, my oils usually have a lot of “impasto” effects with thick paint textures, so using a palette knife should fit right into my style. I want to do it more, learn the technique better, and have some fun with it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had fun last week with a palette knife and acrylics. Like you, I can’t really be very precise. I am going to consult the link of advice you provided. I think your painting is fine. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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