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Getting Started with Acrylic Paints

Lesson 5 of 13

Demo: Palette Knife Technique

Mary Jane Begin

Getting Started with Acrylic Paints

Mary Jane Begin

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Lesson Info

5. Demo: Palette Knife Technique


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:05:14
2 Materials for Acrylic Paints Duration:08:30
4 Demo: Explore Glaze Mediums Duration:19:56
6 Demo: Brushes for Acrylics Duration:15:05
7 Surfaces for Acrylic Paints Duration:19:15
8 Demo: Gesso a Surface Duration:09:13

Lesson Info

Demo: Palette Knife Technique

This is a series of tests with the palette knife and you can see the colors literally, like I can touch it and there's a surface there. This is a very different style of painting than what I've just shown you, but acrylics can do this. And this is a style of painting that you find in oils, people use palette knives to paint with oils, and again acrylics were designed to mimic how oils act. They don't exactly act the same, because of their drying time, so fast, they dry so quickly, but when you use a retardant, you can kinda slow that down. And we can take a look at that here on the surface, and we can even use a palette knife and there are a few different sizes. I'm gonna shift to the brushes in just a minute and I'm gonna test some brush surfaces. But the palette knife, let me just put them down here for you to see, I'll put them on the white. So the palette knife is basically the tool, instead of brushes, which is what you commonly think of when you're painting, when you're working i...

n an impasto fashion or thick fashion, a palette knife is a really cool tool to use because it's like a butter knife, or think of like a cake, if you're decorating a cake, you're smearing that color around with some kind of knife-like tool, that's what you're doing with the color. You're moving it thickly across the surface. And the difference between these have to do with the edge. For example, this and this, they have a smaller edge, they're for more refined moving across a surface, I'll show that to you in a second. And this one's just a slightly larger version of this. This tool has a kind of flat edge, and it's meant to make a kind of shape that would be less round, more edge-oriented, so just like when I talk about watercolor, some things are meant to use for rounds, some are meant for edge, and these are just, again, a fatter version of these. And this literally has a round tip so you can make a swirling mark with that. But what I want to show you is how that looks on a colored surface, 'cause I think it would be fun to see and then we can test it on white. What we're shifting to is a conversation really about how the tools function. And again, this is unique to acrylics and oils. You cannot use these tools, the palette knives for watercolor, it just won't work that way, it's not thick enough. So I'm gonna look to the heavy body paint, but I want to put something other than red on the surface, Kenna? What about one of those turquoises, like that you have nearby? Okay, so let's see. I could use some white to make the turquoise. I'm gonna use titanium white, and I'm going to mix that with perhaps a, I'm gonna mix a color here, phthalo green and blue, and phthalo blue, and make the turquoise that you're describing. And maybe I'll use a, and while you're doing impasto painting, I'm used to squeezing out little tiny patches of color because I use a lot of watercolor, but when you're using acrylic color, you can't be afraid to use this stuff, because especially if you're working in impasto fashion. Now let me just grab, I'm going to use this rounded one first to show rounded motion. But what you do is you literally pick up the color, and there's a little bit of gloss medium sitting there and that's totally fine, but you move it around on the surface, I mean look at that. Doesn't that look delicious? So I'm gonna mix this as a more cohesive color, right now it's just fun to look at, but I'm gonna make Kenna's turquoise. So here's where you're mixing color, but when you're working with impasto techniques, when you're using a palette knife, you kinda have to mix it. You're not gonna layer the color because you can't see through it, it's too dense. So mixing up a nice patch of really consistent tone, I'm smearing it around here, I'm adding a little more white, it's got a rounded tip so I can push this color very nicely. And then you can also grab that color, oh, you can grab that color, and toss it right onto your surface. And because it's so thick, you can move this around to be thin if you want to, or you can take a large quantity of it and make circular motions, because the tip is really round, you can move the paint in circles. And that's really the purpose of this style of palette knife, the one with the rounded tip, is you can almost make, again think of a cake, if you're decorating a cake, this is gonna create a swirling sort of texture. You can thin things out, but you're generally not going to use your glossy or matte medium with palette knives, you're just not because it's not meant to be used transparently, this is a thick medium, it's impasto, you're generally using it as thickly as possible. This is a really different palette knife because it has this beveled edge. We'll use the same color, maybe make it a little lighter. Like I said, you need palette space. Look at how much color I have here, I need like 10 more palettes to make this work. Sometimes people will also utilize the streak of the way the stuff is mixed, and I'll try that here, so that the color is literally not homogenous, it's got several like streaky factors of color in there, it's not perfectly even. And we can make it even more, I'll lift this up, put some in here. And you can see, look at the effect of that. Now you can keep moving this color, you can lift it, you can scrape it away. This is meant for a kind of an edge. And again you're moving this color in just a different way than that. It's just, it depends on the effect you're trying to make, but this is also, the reason why I wanted to do it on the transparent color is because the color's (exhales) jumping off of the surface. And we know it's jumping off because it's a complement, it's turquoise blue and orange. The other thing you can see is I can really move this around pretty nicely, and if we add the retardant, we can move it even more and for longer, and that's its purpose. I'm gonna put this in a cup. It also is kind of a white tone, but it's a little more clear, and it's really goopy, it's almost like glue. Again, you have to test this to see, like does this feel good to my hand ? Do I like moving color around with a palette knife? Do I like these sort of thicker mediums? It's more tactile in some ways than watercolor because it's physically, there's more quantity of the color there. So if I mix the retardant in, what that'll do is it'll keep the color from drying for a little bit longer. The thinner the application, the less time it'll take for it to dry. If it's a thick application, you can go minutes, sometimes even five or six minutes before the color will dry. So retardant, that's all its purpose is, is to slow down drying time. Now I'm actually scraping away with this knife to show almost like a, it's not a transparency, 'cause the color's so opaque, but you can see a little bit of the color underneath. And I'm using the edge of this to allow that to happen. Again, because it's a tool with a flat edge, it's meant to make sort of square, linear shapes, as opposed to the swirling of that round tip brush. And these other, and I'll wash this I'm gonna wash this too. If I leave this this way, it's gonna be all caked with color and that is not ideal, so let me just grab another paper towel, throw this down here. So these are just different ways of showing you impasto painting, we have a variety of those knives here. The difference here is really just size. This one is very similar to the square edge, but it makes a longer line. You can see the edge of this tool is fairly long, and the edge of this tool is fairly short. So it's just the length of the line that it can make when putting the paint on the surface, and I can show you that, I'll probably test it right up here. But I wanna keep these knives clean of color, because they do, you can clean them with soap and water, like really hot water, the paint'll come off. But if it dries on there really hard, you're gonna be like picking away at it, and it's not a fun job, unless you have somebody who will do that for you and who would, it's not a good thing to do. Okay, so I'm gonna put, do another color over here. Kenna, what are we gonna do with this side? What do we want to use? Can we go back to one of those purples? Yeah, absolutely. We could even use permanent violet which is pure purple, it means it's pre-mixed, and as I said, it's a little more vibrant than, a little bit more vibrant than when you mix two primaries together to get that purple. But I'm gonna just do, again, I think my favorite part of impasto is just doing this. It's so fun, I paint in a very detail fashion, so as you can see, so this is not the way I would typically paint, but for fun, just to play, this is a really yummy kinda way to apply color. And you can see, again, I can lift up that patch of color and I can press it down and I can actually make sort of thick, textural marks of color. Look, I've got extra color in it. And you can blend color in ways that you can allow, let me throw this color in here, this'll be fun. And that'll sit on that surface, it will dry, and it'll dry a whole lot faster than it would with oils. Look at that, oh that's such a yummy color on that surface. I'm not trying to make anything particular, I'm just trying to show you how this particular tool works and how you can activate the color and mix the color, you can even smear it around. But the best thing about this color is the edge, is allowing you to do this kind of thing, or you can scrape it away if need be, or you can (sneezes) God bless, you can press it down. Now I blended that color right on the surface. Originally at first it was like a mixture of textural tones. Let me throw some more back in there, 'cause I think that's so, it's a fun thing that this medium can do. And you can let it dry that way. And when we looked at Deeann's work, Deeann Sander, she uses a lot of really impasto painting, which is cool. So that, you know you can get delicacy with these tools. I mean it has a nice, fine tip, but it's not intended to be used as a fine medium for little tiny paintings. Even these pictures, I painted, this one picture, I had to work to make something this small because the tools are not really intended for such little paintings, they're intended for larger surfaces, palette knives are in general. That's what these guys do. But I want to show you, let's go back to our brushes and talk a little bit more about that. I'm gonna move, now this is wet and it's gonna stay wet for at least a few minutes, so I'm just gonna be careful where I put it, I'll put it way over here. I don't want it to fall on the floor. I'll move my palette knives. And the other thing I want to mention, you can see my water is purple. I want to counsel you to use a big bucket of water, it can be a plastic bucket, it can be metal, it can be anything, but don't just use a little tiny cup because the color, as you can see, this is a fair amount of water and that color is purple now, and that's gonna start to influence the color on your surface, it's gonna mix in with your colors. So it's gonna neutralize and do weird things that you aren't expecting that you wouldn't have with clear, clean water. So do get up and periodically change your color. In my classroom, look at my hands, in my classroom, that's probably the thing I'm saying the most when I walk around the room, "Go throw that water away "and get some fresh, clean water, oh." And the water could be perfectly brown. I'm like how could you be using that, and then they question, why is my painting so brown. Look at your water. So let's just go back to, my hands are covered in acrylic paint, you can see it's a lot harder to clean. I'd have to use soap and water to get it clean. I don't mind, I hope you don't mind.

Class Description

Are you interested in working with acrylic paints but not sure how to get started? In this course artist and illustrator, Mary Jane Begin will introduce you to the world of acrylic paints. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics of the medium in order to begin a painting practice. By the end of this course you will be equipped with the know-how to pick up a brush and start experimenting with acrylics!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • All about acrylic paints and how they work
  • Which brushes and papers to use with those paints
  • How to begin making simple marks and shapes to familiarize yourself with the medium 

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anshu priya

Very thorough . perfect for someone who wants to start painting with Acrylics.


Nota review but a suggestion. Use a table knife to remove paper from bloc. No curling of edges.