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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Using Palette Knives To Paint A Smooth Painting

It is a common misconception that palette knives have to be used with thickly pasted paint and impasto work. The truth is that a palette knife is able to apply paint more smoothly than most brushes can. I show you how to do this in today's blog when I use palette knives and oil colours to paint a dragonfly on paper. I then turn this little demonstration into a practical card.


I inadvertently placed the paper on the surface I had been painting all day long and as a result I got paint transfer on. I rather liked this and decided to work with it. I then took the rag with fresh paint smudges and dabbed that onto the paper as well. What would be the result? I had a few smudges that would result in lovely tint differences once I started my painting, making the background a little more interesting. This step is of course completely optional.


I was working with a 12" x 12" white craft paper that I had prepared for paint beforehand. I prepare the paper by treating it to a coat or two of gesso. I have discussed this in previous blogs and will give you the links to these blogs. The first blog was all about How To Strengthen Paper To Take Paint. The follow-up blog was on using Mixed Media On Paper. The third installment was about Painting With Oils On Paper. In the meantime, I simply folded my page in half and carefully tore it in two. I would need to crop the painting later, anyway and there is no urgency to getting the edges tidy at this stage when everything is covered in paint.


I then folded the half I was going to work on, in half yet again. I did not tear it smaller as I rather liked the sturdiness the folded paper afforded me. I could do that later. I now used my palette knife to paint a semi-impasto trail of ovals on the paper. The top one is the largest and will be the head of the dragon fly. They become slightly smaller towards the end. Use whichever colours appeal to you,


I then used the palette knife to dab and drag the outline of wings for the dragon fly.


I only half-painted these wings with the palette knife. I also touched the circles with the red, using the tip of the palette knife.


I used a very dark purple to paint the rest of wings and again touched the body with the purple. I painted detail for the eyes.


I now used my palette knife to scrape the background onto the paper. I literally would apply the paint and then scrape it further to create as thin a layer of paint as I possibly could. I love using the palette knife for this as it is much easier to work accurately into the tiny spaces with the knife than it would be with a conventional paint brush.


When I was done, I picked up slithers of red and scraped it over the background to make it a little more interesting and to create the illusion of depth.


I now had to wait for the paint to dry before I could continue. Depending on the weather, this could take a few days.


I use craft paper that has been cut to measure 6" x 12" for my card.


I fold this paper in half to create the card.


I then cut matting for my painting to measure 5,8" x 5,8".


I finally tear the empty half of the paper that has my painting off.


I now crop the painting to measure 5,6" x 5,6".


I ink the edges of the matting with a distress ink pad.


I ink the edges of the card with the same ink pad.


I use double-sided tape to adhere the matting to the card.


Lastly, I stick the painting on top of the matting to finish the card. This painting has lots of empty space in the lower right hand corner to add a personal message, such as 'Happy Birthday', or 'Merry Christmas', or 'Bon Voyage', or whatever you wish. I leave mine blank for now as I did not start off with the intention of making a card. This was simply intended to be a blog with tips for using your palette knives. Happy Painting!


Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy the books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
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