How to Paint with a Palette Knife

Sometimes painting with a brush can be a pain in the neck. Try painting with your palette knife instead.


Up next in Learn How to Paint (15 videos)

Bring out your inner artist with these painting tips and techniques.

You Will Need

  • A palette knife
  • Oil paints
  • Acrylic paints with medium mixed in


  1. Step 1

    Hold knife like a brush

    Hold the painting knife pretty much the same way you should a paintbrush.

  2. More specifically, hold the knife so it rests atop the inside of all four fingers—not gripped like a baseball bat or a pencil.

  3. Step 2

    Glob the paint on the canvas

    Glob the paint on to the pre-treated canvas or board and start pushing it around.

  4. Step 3

    Feel out the surfaces

    Get a feel for what the different surfaces—including the edges—of the paint knife can do.

  5. It helps, though isn’t necessary, to work from light to dark.

  6. Step 4

    Watch the paint dry

    Watch how the paint dries. It might sound boring, but it’s crucial if you care about your work.

  7. The toughest time to work over a layer of paint is when it’s wet with a dry skin on top. You can work wet-on-dry, but working wet-on-wet is the most common way to go about it.

  8. Step 5

    Wipe your knives clean

    Simply wipe your knives clean with a good, lint-free rag.

  9. Don’t be afraid to put a little cleaning solution on the rag to get all of the paint off the knife before dipping it back down.

  10. Step 6

    Wait for the paint to dry

    Allow a long time for the paint to dry completely. If you’re wondering if it’s been long enough, it hasn’t.

  11. You can save a few bucks by buying some of your tools at the hardware store.