Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Palette Knife Musings

If you're able to get butter onto a slice of bread, then you already know what to do to get paint onto a painting knife. There's no magic trick. It's just scrape the knife across the surface of the paint so it gathers up some paint, or dip it into the paint and flip out a bit. Now you are ready to attack the canvas! I know some of you may not get this unless you try it yourself. Preferably with oil colours please.

In pics are some of my oil works... under the knife [explorations]:

Alpine delight

Tunnel of Love

Reflections in the night

Dancing dusk in Water

The Pond in the Jungle

Snow caped under the moonlight

Valley of flowers


Road to Tuscany

The Fallen Leaf



Try this technique with oil paints and you are in the league of masters like Van Gogh and MF Husain who made some of their popular works using just this technique. You wish I am kidding! I was intrigued into this method as a teenager and have been painting ever since with the knife and am completely in love with it. My goal is to spread the joy of palette knife smearing and etching… on canvas… to every human soul.

Yellow River


Dreamy Lupins

Traditionally the knife was used to just mix paints to make a new shade that the artist would then use his brush to transfer to the canvas. But making a complete painting using the knife technique is not just unique because of the texture that it brings but also liberating.

Squish, splatter, layer, texturize and blend to your heart’s content. Art is therapy. The creative process is therapeutic. It calms, it heals, it allows you to channel emotions, frustrations, fears, anger, all those things that we can’t look at face on. 

The Girl and the Rabbit 

A good painting session is when you get into the 'zone', where you don’t think, but just do, being that what you are and it all flows. Most importantly it allows you to play! That is when you start having the fun and start creating in the spirit it is all meant to be. This can be technically called the 'artist's process'… or creative process. So rejuvenating that nothing else can replace… or everything else feels better than before. Its addictive as much as it is healing!

From my live demo on knife painting in Dubai 

Painting knives are excellent for producing textured, impasto work and sweeping areas of flat color as well as tiny shapes of colour.  

Types of knives
Although there is a difference between a painting knife and a palette knife, many people use the terms interchangeably. Strictly speaking, a palette knife is a long, straight blade or spatula that is used for mixing paints and scraping a palette clean, not for applying paint onto a canvas. But normal is boring. That is perhaps why great masters thought of simply painting with it… and they stumbled upon ecstasy too.

The Tuscan Stairway

Kaiser's Crown


The knives are available in most art shops. A palette knife can be made from metal, plastic, or wood and will either be completely straight or have a slightly cranked (bent) handle. A painting knife is most commonly made from metal with a wood handle, and has a large crank or bends in the handle, which takes your hand away from the painting surface and helps keep your knuckles out of the wet paint you've just applied. Painting knives come in numerous shapes (for example pear-, diamond-, or trowel-shaped) and are used for painting instead of a brush. There is, of course, nothing stopping you from using a painting knife for mixing paint on your palette… or directly on your canvas, like I do.

Sneak peak to my ongoing Dubai workshops on the palette knife application…

Currently there are seats available for my workshops at the Art*ry art gallery in Al Quoz on Saturdays. If you are keen to join click this link for more details… and book your space.

Here are some of my students with their first palette knife joys!
Diya with 'Journey'

Sheryl with 'My Canoe'

Clair with 'Azure is not a colour'

To buy art, attend art classes, book corporate workshops and/or commission an art write up please mail me at archanard@gmail.com… or if you wish to simply know what am up to follow my Facebook page B'lu.

PS: Currently my live workshops are available at these spaces upon pre registration:
Dubai: Artry Art Gallery, Al Quoz
Abu Dhabi: The Space, Part Rotana Complex 

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