Wednesday, July 5, 2017

330: My favorite palette knives

–AS promised I finally put together a video outlining all of my favorite palette knives (see below). I'm using all palette knives now and am enjoying not cleaning brushes nor using solvents–which is especially nice in the field.

Here is a numbered, paragraph-by-paragraph description of each palette knife I mention in the video, plus links:

1. Blunt nose, small palette knife: This is my favorite knife. It holds a lot of paint, and you can maneuver it into small spaces, pushing lots of paint into an area fast (it is available as knife #3 in the set in #7 below).

2. Long, pie-shaped palette knife: This is good to make flat lines, both with the end, dragging the color off the tip, and touching the broad side to the canvas with a light touch to create a line (knife number 5 in the set).

3. Ginko leaf-shaped palette knife: This knife will move a lot of paint yet give lots of various marks, both from the side and the tip. It is great for blending between patches of color as well as softening or removing excess texture. For its blending ability, this is a must-have.

4. Round palette knife: This will do much of what the Ginko leaf-shaped knife will do, and it has a bit more flexibility, which helps make a softer blend (knife #1 in this set).

5. Spatula paint scraper: I use these to get paint out of paint cans (it helps keep the surface flat as you pull the color out, thus slowing drying). But I also use them as paint erasers. I simply scrape the canvas with these with the blunt ends to pull off the errant paint strokes.

6. Flared, blunt Japanese palette knife: This is great for blending and making leaf-shaped marks. Like all the Japanese knives in this set, it has a stiff blade that requires a softer touch.

7. Flat, serrated Japanese palette knife: I use the tip of this knife to blend edges that are too hard. That is, where the value of contiguous shapes is too divergent. Using this can give a very chaotic edge.

8. Broad, square-serrated palette knife: This is similar to the previous knife, but the blade is more flexible (I haven't found an online source yet).

9. Small, broad pie-shaped palette knife: This moves a lot of paint but has a less blunt tip.

10. Thin, square palette knife: This is great for making flat-tipped shapes like fence posts and details on architecture. You can make any palette knife a blunt-tipped one by cutting the tip off with a pair of tin snips. This is handy if you want a set of knives with differing widths.

11. Small spatula palette knife: Good for creating broad, flat blends (I haven't found an online source yet).

12. Large spatula palette knife: Same as above but on a larger scale. Note: This is actually a spatula for cooking, but it works just as good as an artist's knife but is cheaper.

13. Brush-like, serrated Japanese palette knife: This stiff blade is great for blending edges and creating jagged blends.

14: Pie-shaped, serrated Japanese palette knife: Much like the above but having a broader swathe. Good for infusing texture into a blank patch of paint.

15. Thin, knife-shaped palette knife: Great for making branches or other linear marks (I haven't found an online source yet).

16. Small, pie-shaped palette knife: This is like palette knife #1 above but with a more linear mark-making tip.

17. Large, serrated Japanese palette knife: I'm not entirely sure what to do with this one, but it is so cool I have to have it in my kit. If you don't have a palette knife, you will never discover what it might be used for.

18. Flat-nosed, serrated palette knife: This makes very subtle brush-like textures. (I haven't found an online source for this as yet).

19. Canvas scraper: This is good for sgraffito techniques (scrapping into wet paint), which I use to reveal the underpainting in selected areas.

Let me know if you know of any other interesting knives.

Brad Teare –July 2017

Above painting: Road Near Avon, 20" x 20", available at Anthony's Fine Art


  1. Thanks Brad. Makes me want to go get more knives!

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