Acrylic Palette Knife Painting with Ashley Nordin

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Learn to paint with palette knife to create a textural work of art! Join our Facebook Group, the BLICK Creative Community, for an Acrylic Palette Knife Painting Demo with BLICK’s own Ashley Nordin on 3/30 at 6 p.m. CST. Get tips for sketching from observation, then use Utrecht Artists’ Acrylics to m...


Preparation 1. Print out a copy of our free reference image.

Process 1. Observe your image, noting visual elements such as buildings or colors that you would like to capture in your painting. Prepare to sketch on a 9" x 12" canvas using a pencil, eraser, and pencil sharpener. 2. Hold your pencil at arm’s length to the reference image. Squinting with one eye, tilt your pencil at the angle of the object you are observing. Holding that angle in place, bring your pencil back down to your canvas and draw that exact angle. 3. Use the blunt edge of your pencil to measure the approximate size of an object by resting your thumb at the edge of that object. Then translate the approximate size of the object onto your canvas. 4. Observe and utilize perspective to create illusion of depth. Objects further away will appear smaller, and objects that are closer will appear larger. Make corrections as your drawing develops, but don’t get caught up on minute details. 5. Create an underpainting of the warm and neutral colors in your image to lay out an initial ground of color. Suggested colors include Cadmium-Free Yellow Light, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium-Free Orange, Quinacridone Magenta, Cadmium-Free Red Light, Burnt Umber, and Raw Sienna. 6. Now develop an underpainting of the cool colors in your image using Ultramarine Blue, Turquoise, and Yellow. Mix Blue and Turquoise with Yellows to create various shades of green. 7. When you’re happy with your underpainting, prepare to mix your gloss and gel mediums to create a paint texture appropriate for palette knife painting. 8. Mix matte and gloss gel mediums together to create a satin-finish medium. Alternatively, you can use a matte or gloss medium alone to achieve your desired finish. 9. When you’re satisfied with your medium, start mixing it with your paint in a 1:10 ratio (one part paint to 10 parts medium) until the desired opacity is achieved. 10. Add more medium to make paint layers more transparent. Use less medium to make paint more opaque or build texture while painting. 11. Use your medium in place of water, as water acts as a thinner to the paint. Use water for cleaning brushes and palette knives between colors. 12. Working from one group or color to the next and in order of largest to smallest areas, use the palette knife to paint in areas of color. 13. Utilize an impressionistic paint stroke to add texture and create dramatic lines. Palette knives can also be used to carve into wet paint or semi-dried paint layers. 14. Fill in any hard-to-reach areas with a paintbrush or the tip of the palette knife. 15. Use a scumbling technique to modify drying layers of paint in order to achieve a softer or more textured look. 16. Refine details using a brush until your painting is complete.