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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.


  • Step 1: Hold knife like a brush Hold the painting knife pretty much the same way you should a paintbrush.
  • TIP: More specifically, hold the knife so it rests atop the inside of all four fingers—not gripped like a baseball bat or a pencil.
  • Step 2: Glob the paint on the canvas Glob the paint on to the pre-treated canvas or board and start pushing it around.
  • Step 3: Feel out the surfaces Get a feel for what the different surfaces—including the edges—of the paint knife can do.
  • TIP: It helps, though isn’t necessary, to work from light to dark.
  • 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.
  • TIP: 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.
  • Step 5: Wipe your knives clean Simply wipe your knives clean with a good, lint-free rag.
  • TIP: 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.
  • 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.
  • FACT: You can save a few bucks by buying some of your tools at the hardware store.

You Will Need

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

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