I’d like to begin this guide by fully disclosing that I was never really taught how to paint with a palette knife.
I didn’t learn it in any of the bazillions (it seems) of formal, extra-curricular art classes I’ve taken since I started taking them when I was about 13. I didn’t learn it at art school proper, where we were told that palette knives were for mixing paint, and that you would wreck your brushes if you used them for this purpose.
And yet I’ve done two entire shows featuring palette knife painting (not counting a third ‘sort of solo show’ #itscomplicated) plus another with a couple of pieces done the same way)—along with the few odd pieces for group shows. I can’t help it—palette knife painting is insanely addicting.
So it’s on the basis of that that I’d like to share what I’ve learnt over the thirty odd years I’ve been ‘playing with knives’. On top of maybe sparing you a learning curve (although there’s a lot of fun that can be had in that), I’m hoping you might find the same intense enjoyment in this particularly tactile, energetic and expressive method of painting.
So to sort of follow up on the Quick-Start Beginner’s Guide to Oil Painting I made for my students last summer, this is a very informal, loosely written quick-start guide to painting with a palette knife. (Which actually is more like a slow, rambling love story between me and palette knife painting.) Such as it is, this guide will be covering
- Parts of a palette knife
- Choosing your knives
- The kinds of knives out there
- Palette knife painting techniques
- Mediums (or things you can mix with the paint)
- Caring for your palette knives
Quite a number of the terms I’ll be using, I made up, mainly because (as I’ve said) I never attended any real ‘How to Paint with a Palette Knife’ classes. I’ll be sure to let you know which terms are mine, though.