How did you learn to knife paint?

Is there a right way to paint with a knife? I have some good knives that I have been using to push paint around, but am never sure if this is correct. I haven’t found much on YouTube or at the library. If this is a mostly self taught endeavor, that’s where I’m at.

Hi Patricia, it’s one of those areas in art that information is often vague at best. Yet, in the online art stores there is an array of painting knives up to 1 to150 or so. I use a palette knife a lot in my oil painting and I mostly use a small RGM make, and whether I am using it the correct way or not, makes little difference if I get the effect I want. I reckon three is the most one would need, a no. 20, 81 and a 109.

Thanks Joe. It is indeed strange that more hasn’t been written about these tools. I think I’ll just keep on with my various swipes and slashes!

Hi Patricia,
I paint with knife mostly, I am happy with an inexpensive plastic knife that can be wiped clean, and I follow my instinct to apply the paint in a way that gives me the result that I am looking for. I love the knife better than the brush but I need to make sure that I dont get addicted to the knife and not use brush at all! Here is a link to a knife technique that I have enjoyed. Hope you like it too.
Trying to give the link on my ipad…

Thanks Padmaja, I just looked at his video and it’s the best I’ve seen.

I prefer using pieces of cardboard over palette knives–easier to control. Cut up matting is a nice weight to use.

I think Leslie Saeta paints with a knife and teache’s that too - you might check out her site:


One of my favorite oil painting books also addresses palette knife painting as a technique. It’s Arthur Stern’s How to See Color and Paint It. There are some great exercises in this book and I often recommend to students. This was reprinted this year and now easy to find to Amazon.

Susan Sarback’s Capturing Radiant Color in Oils is another (only a few dollars on Amazon.)

My personal favorite knives are the RGM soft grip palette knives and old cut up plastic cards. Cheers and happy knife painting! Aimee

Hi Scarlet, good to find this website.
I wonder if somebody can help me with this:
I just bought the book “how to see color and paint it”, was starting with the first exercise. Turns out pages 39 to 42 are missing, takes 3 weeks to get another one!
Would somebody send me pictures of these pages ??


I took a course from Leslie Saeta!

I don’t use a palette knife very much but it’s always useful to have another string to your bow.

The best thing is, like everything just to have a go and practice. Leslie uses smooth gessobord rather than canvas as she says it is easier to move the paint around. She doesn’t use many knives, just a small, medium and large.

She does online classes if you cant get to one of her workshops.

There are quite a few video’s on youTube for palette knife painting. Check there, videos range from demonstrations to how-to’s.