Using a Palette Knife

Early in my career when I thought of a palette knife, I thought of the guys on TV who used a knife to lay in half the painting in thirty seconds or to paint the same stylized tree every time.  Now I think of Richard Schmid using a knife to flatten a ground plane in the foreground or Trevor Chamberlain (painting shown) using a knife to soften edges or to flatten a dark plane against a light plane.  The palette knife is a good tool to use when you want to simplify a passage in your painting or flatten it against a busier area.  When the paint gets too thick in the darks and the heavy brushstrokes cause glare, use the knife to flatten the thicker paint so it can’t reflect the light.  A couple of strokes with a pallette knife can be a nice contrast against a bunch of short choppy brushstrokes.  I use the knife a lot to mix bigger piles of paint in the studio for large paintings.  It’s hard to mix big piles of paint with the brush.  So go get a couple of knives (small and medium size) but watch out for the sharp edges.  Also check out Trevor Chamberlain’s book: "Oil Painting: Pure and Simple.”

Join the newsletter

Subscribe to get our latest content by email.
Powered by ConvertKit