Oil Painting with a Palette Knife

Palette and Painting Knives go hand in hand with oil paints.  Many people use these terms interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two.  A Palette Knife is a special knife made specifically for mixing your paints on your palette, while a Painting Knife is used for applying the paint to whatever surface you are painting on.

I  don’t think it really matters to be honest.  I have used palette knives to paint with and painting knives to mix my paint.  Sometimes I actually prefer painting with a palette knife over a painting knife. It really depends on the situation I guess. Certain situations simply call for a certain kind of knife, so you have to work with these knives to figure what approach is best for you.  I recommend buying both kinds and trying them out yourself.

The first time you paint with a knife, it may feel quite strange and awkward. It is very similar to applying frosting to a cake or buttering a piece of bread. You will not have the same control that you would have when painting with a brush.  This is to be expected and you need to get used to it.

There are some big advantages to painting with a knife.  For one, clean up is a breeze.  Simply wipe the knife off on a paper towel when using a new color or when your session is finished.  Another great advantage to painting with a knife is that it helps you to paint with a looser style. You are not overly concerned with fine details.

I remember the first time I painted with a knife.  I absolutely hated it. The first three or four paintings I did were dreadful, but I kept at it and now I paint almost exclusively with a palette knife. You may have a similar experience. Only time will tell.

One thing that frightens beginners when first working with knives, is the amount of paint that is needed to complete a painting.  You will have to get over your fears of wasting paint and just let yourself go.  I know paints don’t come cheap, but the whole point of painting with a palette knife is to lay it on thick, to create a rich painting full of texture and energy.  If you are skimpy with your paints, it kind of defeats the whole purpose. So just enjoy yourself!

Below are  a handful of excellent videos and other resources that I found on YouTube and elsewhere online..  I hope you find these resources helpful and if you do, please be so kind as to leave a comment below.  Or, if you know of any other resources not mentioned here, feel free to post a link.  Thanks and enjoy your journey with the knives!


Wilson Bickford Knife Painting Techniques – Intermediate/Advanced

How to Use a Palette Knife in Oil Painting

Oil Painting Palette Knives

Wet on Wet Oil Painting – Foliage Tricks with the Palette Knife

Pansy oil painting by Andreas Bu , how to paint with palette knife

Oil Painter’s Studio: Brushes and Palette Knives

How to use a palette knife in oil painting: Beginner palette knife techniques

Painting Roses in Oil with a Palette Knife in 3 Easy Steps

Palette Knife Technique for Abstract Paintings

Alison Vernon Palette Knife Painting

Heavy impasto Palette Knife painting by Alex Perez from 1999 Part-1

“Straight Ahead,” a palette knife painting in oil by Cheri Christensen

Other Resources

Knife Painting Oil Landscape Demonstration

Creating a Landscape With a Palette Knife Demonstration

The Secret of Palette Knife Painting

Palette Knife Landscape Painting Demonstration

Knife Painting

Portrait Painting Demonstration Using a Painting Knife

Painting with a Knife

Palette Knife Painting Techniques

Painting and Palette Knives

The Art of Texture: Impasto Oil Paintings by Trisha Lamoreaux

Oil Painting with a Painter’s Knife or Palette Knife

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