Many artists create all of their works with a palette knife due to the texture and movement it gives to the painting. And for many artists palette knife became one of the most important tools. Originally they used palette knives to mix and move paint around pallets, then artists started to use them to apply the paint to the canvas so it could be spread smoothly. Palette knives come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. And today you are able to buy several different types of palette knives, with different steel quality. The blades on the palette knife used for painting are usually made from forged steel and are very flexible. The handles are made from hardwood and the blade should extend completely through it. There are three main types of knives: a symmetrical knife that has a rounded tip, which is good for mixing paints, a knife that is symmetrical with a pointed tip, which can be used for details and sharp edges, and an asymmetrical knife that has a pointed tip and is diagonal on the end. The asymmetrical knife can be used to apply paint, scrape paint off (which is called “sgraffito”) and even clean excess paint off of a palette.
There are several methods to apply paint to a canvas or board using a palette knife. Dipping the edge of a palette knife into paint and then dragging the point across the canvas will create very fine lines for edging or detailing. Starting with a thick line and altering the pressure from heavy to light, will create motion and interest in your painting. Sgraffito, or scratching into the paint, can be created by spreading paint onto the canvas and using a sharp tip of a knife and scratching into the paint, removing it to reveal the under color. To create large sections of thick texture, load up a large blob of paint on your knife and press it down onto the canvas. It can be smoothed out as if icing a cake to cover large areas. Impressionistic effects can be created with small dabs of paint applied quickly with the end of a knife. Effects can easily be altered depending on how much paint is used on the palette knife and how much pressure is being applied while moving the knife over the canvas.
Both acrylic and oil paint are appropriate for use with palette knife painting. Oil and acrylic paints can continue to be built up with several layers, allowing each layer to dry prior to adding more paint. The thicker the paint, the longer the drying time will be. This means that by using a knife it is possible to layer wet paint on top of wet paint without disturbing the layer underneath, thus maintaining a freshness in the painting. Also, it’s important to keep the knife clean, because it will automatically keep your colors pure. No solvents required. All you need is a quick wipe of the cloth. So, don’t forget to wipe paint off of a palette knife in between each application so that it is clean and colors do not blend unintentionally. You can manipulate paint in a variety of different ways with a knife just by changing your hand position on the handle. The most common use of a palette knife is to add texture to a painting. This is usually done with a larger, wider palette knife heaped high with paint. The more flexible the knife, the more control you have of the paint. Palette
knives are ideal for laying down large swaths of color for layering. Today, the palette knife is used by artists everywhere, for many different reasons. With the help of palette knife you even can remove paint from your canvas. This is handy for making designs, as well as for cleaning up mistakes. Knives are ideally suited for use in oil paintings of architectural subjects or for anything which is man made.