Oct 20, 2011

How to Paint with a Knife

I have always loved painting with a knife, it is one way to loosen up and feel free with my art. If you are getting a little board with what you are painting
knife painting can add a fresh approach to an artist's painting technique. If you want to do this first you need to know the difference between a painting knife and a palette knife. Though these terms are often used interchangeably, they are diverse
tools. Both knives are characteristically made from stainless steel and have a wooden handle. But these tools serve different purposes and so they fluctuate somewhat in shape or design.
To put it simply the palette knife is used for mixing paints or scraping paint off the palette whereas a painting knife is used for placing paint on the canvas. A palette knife is not planned to spread paint on canvas. This tool is designed for use on the palette itself.
It is perfect for mixing paints and mediums on the palette or it can be used to scrape up paint off the canvas or for cleaning the paint off the palette.
On a palette knife, the tang is typically straight and flat where it leaves the handle. The flat blade is similar to that of a spatula. It will often be tapered with a rounded tip or it is long and narrow.
The painting knife is the right tool for painting. It’s used in place of a brush for applying
paints, medium, or pastes onto the canvas. The tang where it leaves the handle is
rounded and usually has a bend in it just below the handle. This angle keeps
the fingers high enough so that they don’t drag through the fresh paint. The blade itself is flat; however, there are numerous different interesting shapes and sizes.

The blades will differ by sharpness of the points, angles, lengths and flexibility the most common shapes being the trowel, pear, diamond and the multi-sided angles.
Each shape makes a different mark with the paint. I think that the first one to try if you are just starting out is the trowel shape. It is very versatile and easy to use.

To make your first purchase look for a knife that is made of high quality steel. They should be light in weight with a slight stiffness but with a good spring or bounce to it. It should feel like it is well balanced in your hand. Be sure that the edge is not too sharp, it should not cut the canvas as you apply the paint!
A good knife may be a bit expensive and I have found ones that are made in Italy are the very best, but remember they are really economical because they usually last longer than brushes.

Here are some ways to use a knife:

To paint thin lines load the edge of the knife and drag it along the canvas or tap the edge down sharply.
Dragging the loaded blade lightly along the canvas can create beautiful strokes in the paint as it is spread. This can create a nice texture to a stroke. The paint can be flicked or hit down against the canvas quickly to make small dabs of color. Knives are great for scumbling.

The painting knife can be used to push or cover the paint around to create detailed shapes. Paint can even be squeezed straight onto the canvas and then moved around with the knife.
If painting a whole painting with a knife is not for you try using it with a brush, it will offer a chance to see how it feels to use the knife and give your paintings a new look.
Remember to pick up and spread paint is by lifting paint on the underside, not the
top side of the blade. A painting made with painting knives looks very different than one made with paintbrushes. Painting knives are great for putting on thick layers of paint quickly. They create wonderful impasto work. With a little practice you can learn how to skillfully apply the paint to create a wide range of beautiful textures and marks. Think of the palette knife as an extension of your hand as you work. Use your forefinger to direct the blade.
As time goes by and you become more comfortable painting with a knife you will be able to create more detailed images. If you can paint something with a brush you can paint it with a knife.
Please remember to clean your palette knife when you finish painting for the day. Just wipe the paint off with a cloth, making sure that you wipe off all paint.

Here are some painting th are done with knives you can use.These are just stunning!
Knife Paintings by
Jean-Marc Janiaczyk

Some knives you can use

By Sharon Teal-Coray

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