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Painting and Palette Knives

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Painting and Palette Knives

palette knife

Palette knives:- have a solid blade from handle to tip and the tang/tongue (insert) should extend completely through the handle. The blade is usually forged steel, flexible and blunt. The handle is made of hardwood and the blade is usually straight. They are designed to be used for mixing paint and cleaning paint from the palette.



Painting knives:- traditionally have a narrow cranked arm to the blade as shown in the examples right, this allows them to be flexible, light in weight and helps to keep the knuckles of the hand, out of the paint when in use.
There are others that have a straight solid blade; these generally have an angled square end to the blade.
The blade is forged steel tempered along its full length giving flexible stiffness, with the tang extending through the handle.

painting knives


knife work

Painting knives are used for applying paint to canvas, especially where an impasto (thick, rough) effect is required. Very useful where a straight edge is needed or a sharply defined line.
When first starting to paint with a knife, the 'Trowel' shape is probably the best to choose as it is a useful shape and easy to handle. Think of it 'like spreading jam onto bread and butter'.
It is best to keep the knife clean between applications this helps to reduce the muddying of the colours. Paint applied without too much mixing is very effective.



As shown right, more than one colour can be added to the knife, this can be especially useful where large sweeps of are colour are needed - an expanse of flat water for instance or the side of a building. Practice different ways of loading the knife and different actions when applying the paint. Try and develop a light touch when applying the paint, too much pressure and the paint will be removed as fast as you try to apply it.

oil and painting knife


knife painting

The edges of the blade should not be too sharp, a blunt, smooth edge is often the easiest to work with, if it appears too sharp, dull/blunt it by rubbing on fine 'wet and dry' emery paper. A sharp edge can damage the primed surface of the canvas and even cut into the fabric.
Test the blade by picking paint up from a palette, it should cut through and lift the paint with a smooth feel against the palette.



Would you consider that using a Painting knife has anything to do with the 'Building trade'? If you have the opportunity to watch a skilled person laying bricks or plastering a wall their expertise and dexterity with the tools of their trade are what you are after with the tools of yours!
Using a painting knife you are building up layers of paint; make sure your 'building' stands the test of time.

water with knife


knife blades

"Painting Knives"! All manner of other useful types of blades can be tried, a wide selection can be found in the 'clay modelling' section of an art shop, from spatulas to wire tools. Try experimenting with household tools you have on hand, the main thing to remember is that the edge of the blade needs to be blunt, otherwise there is the risk of cutting the canvas.




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