Benefits of Knife while Painting Portraits

Since centuries, artists have used different tools for painting in oil paint. Among others, the ‘knife’ is a tool used to create textures in the application of oil paint.

This tutorial talks about the benefits of the humble but useful ‘knife’ in painting portraits. 

Palette knives come in different shapes and sizes. Each of these unique shapes has its own respective uses. 


The texture created while application of colour with a knife depends on factors such as :

  • The edge and tip of a knife.

  • The flexibility of the knife 

  • The amount of colour picked in the knife 

While applying oil paint in a portrait with the knife, it’s is necessary to make sure that the metal does not touch the canvas. ( see video ) It is essential that there is always a 2 mm or more distance between the canvas and the knife. This distance is where the oil paint should be -just like buttering a loaf of bread with a butterknife. 

Every artist has his /her own unique style of incorporating the knife in their paintings. I like to use the knife for mixing and merging of two colours. I also enjoy the sharp edge the knife leaves on my surface in some places. 

Lastly, one of the most important benefits of using a palette knife is that it ensures :

  • Thick “impasto” application 

  • Maintains richness and brightness of colour 

  • Creates interesting textural quality to the painting.



happy painting!!!


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