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How to Use a Palette Knife with Acrylic Paint

Learn how to paint with acrylic paint using a palette knife from painter Linda Rhea in this Howcast video.


Hi, I'm Linda. I created a company called Paint Along. Check us out at We have really fun painting workshops in Nashville and New York.

The palette knife is a great tool to use in painting with acrylics. They come in a lot of different sizes and shapes, you can find them in your craft store. I like this particular one, it's one of my favorite knives, it's got a long edge and then it has a short edge here and I can use if for a lot of different applications. I love to do paintings of flowers with my palette knife because I can a lot of different size petals with this particular one.

This one is mainly used for blending paint so you might want to save one of these little guys and have one of these in your tool kit just for blending colors. If you're planning on using the palette knife and you're blending your colors, make sure that you use a flat palette because you have to be able to pick the paint up with the knife.

So, let's see, we have some other little knives here. This is a very small, little knife and this one can be used for small details in landscapes and florals and in still lifes.

What I'd like to show you a little bit about, is how we pick up the paint with the palette knife and how we apply it to the canvas, especially in this case, with the tree trunk. I'll use the green on top of the brown just so that you can see it. And the way that I'm going to do this, is I'm scraping through the paint and I'm picking the paint up on the bottom side of the knife. I'm right handed so I use the knife this way and I apply pressure from the right. So the paint is on the bottom half of the knife and as I come to the canvas, I just scrape across and you can see how the paint is coming off onto the canvas and the branches.

If I want to build some grass and some more texture on the bottom of the canvas, I'm going to put a layer of grass coming across the bottom here. This gives me a really, different creative form of a landscape. It's not just painted on, it's almost just laid on top of the canvas. I'm going to use the short end of the palette knife this time to give myself some little blades of grass coming up and I'm just going to scrape up and those are some basic techniques for using a palette knife.

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