Acrylic Palette Knife Painting Techniques – 3/4


A step-by-step Palette Knife Acrylic Painting – Video Course Part 3

In this painterly, impressionistic palette knife study, I am posting a weekly video on my YouTube channel so that you can follow along at home.

It’s free to subscribe to the blog to receive updates so you can keep up with the painting progress.

Developing a Painterly Approach

When painting with a palette knife, one of the most valuable techniques you can apply is to loosen up and try and see shapes, rather than details.

If you’re coming to painting from drawing, comparing the control you can achieve with a sharp pencil with the ‘clumsiness’ of a palette knife, can be become your Achilles heel…

The palette knife can feel hard to handle and when you hit a slick of wet paint it doesn’t always behave as you’d imagined!

However, the lessons you can learn from being more expressive and carefree with your palette knife, can help to bring a freshness to your other paintings – even if you use a brush for the whole piece.

The tendency when using a brush is to try and always ‘neaten up’ an edge but as you become more comfortable with unplanned more gestural marks, you will learn when to leave, appreciate and stop ‘fiddling’ with your details, resulting in a painting with more energy and personality.


Will Kemp, Portrait of Liz (detail), Oil on Canvas, 95 x 160 cm

In the above painting, the stuffed parrot to the left of the composition was initially detailed, however, it began to ‘fight’ with the gaze of the sitter.

So I reworked that section of the painting by adding a touch of red and yellow with the palette knife. I was able to quickly blur the details, add a contemporary twist and some movement to the serious tone of the portrait.

With learning any new technique, there will always be that uncomfortable learning curve. Using a wet into wet technique can be helpful if you’re coming to acrylics from oils.

You can, of course, use the palette knife with oil paints as well as acrylics and with a lightness of touch you can apply clean colour on top of wet paint without it disturbing or muddying the colour underneath.

Pro tip: If you prefer to paint in a solvent-free studio, working with oils and a palette knife can be an effective method of moving paint around without the need for solvents.

Part 3 of 4

In this part of the painting, the brighter oranges bring our eyes forward and send the cooler hues of the mountains into the distance.

We also begin to work between the palette knife and the brush, you don’t need to add much detail, just a few finer lines or the odd sharp edge to give the illusion of a more detailed piece.

How to paint with a palette knife –  Free acrylic video Course |Part 3

This video below shows the next steps of this palette knife landscape tutorial.

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Make sure to subscribe (it’s free) to keep updated, you’ll get email updates when the next video is posted.

Next week, for the final Part 4, we’ll put in the finer details and finishing touches.

If you want to brush up on your colour theory, you should have a look at my Simple Colour Mixing Course.

You might also like:
1. Acrylic Palette Knife Painting Techniques – Free Video Course |Part 1
2. Acrylic Palette Knife Painting Techniques – Free Video Course |Part 2
3. Acrylic Palette Knife Painting Techniques – Free Video Course |Part 4


This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. virginia nickle

    well I am doing fine and I want to thank you Will, you really made my day! I was able to do a still life after watching you tutorial on the cherries. Thank thank you ! My still life looked really nice . Please keep the tutorials coming I need them! BLESS YOU DEAR YOUNG MAN

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Virginia, great to hear you had the confidence to tackle your own still life after completing the cherry tutorial.



  2. kevin cross

    Very enjoyable and informative. Thank you. Kevin

    1. Will Kemp

      You’re welcome Kevin, cheers for the comment,


  3. Sheila Burdon

    Hi Will,
    My husband bought me some acrylics & equipment for Christmas 3 yrs ago. Not knowing where to start I booked a day class at an arts centre, by chance the artist used a palette knife and loaned me one of his to try. Having spent almost half a century buttering bread and icing cakes I found it a very comfortable medium and though initially terrified to make that first mark, once I did I loved it. That day changed my life. I never believed I had any talent but was persuaded to keep going to classes. When I thought about it I wasn’t born being able to cook but I learned and took the same attitude to art.

    I’ve had quite a few lessons now and am pleased with my progress so far. When I found you on YouTube I couldn’t believe my luck. You are a natural teacher, you realise when starting out even the most basic things like choosing the right brush, cleaning that brush, mixing colours are all so important and make such a difference. I watch your videos over and over again and love to watch you paint. Thank you so much for your generous spirit and patience imparting all your knowledge to us novices, it really is appreciated.

    Thanks also for posting your Venice paintings, I hoped you would as it’s one of my favourite places and you’ve done it proud, really caught the essence. You have a wonderful talent for painting and teaching and I’m proud to be your student, when you say “morning class” I grin and can’t wait for the lesson to start.

    Good luck in all you do.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Shelia,

      Lovely to hear from you. So pleased you have been finding the lessons helpful, and yes, baking is the perfect practice for skilled palette knife painting! Glad you liked the Venice paintings, thanks for your kind comments.

      Thanks again,


  4. Helen Northill

    I learn so much just listening to your directions Will. I’m glad I found you on Art Tutor and then followed on to your own website. Please keep the tutorials coming as they are so inspiring.

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Helen, thanks for dropping by, glad to hear you’re enjoying the lessons,


  5. mary konstandinidou

    Hello Will,

    Just got back home from my annual check-up and looked at Part 3, it is amazing how things change when you put the next color and the way you do it.

    What I like about your tutoring is that you show the way to use the information to express ourselves and not to imitate you, that’s a quality of an inspired artist-tutor.

    About Venice paintings, sky mixing and color choices are fantastic they should be in a Museum it really puts you into the painting I wish I could express it better, same about the abstract’s where the message you want to give is clear (you have seen in painting exhibitions people pretending to understand) but you give also space to bring out our own view of the painting. BRAVO

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Mary,

      Nice to hear from you, thanks for your kind comments, pleased to hear the tutorial is helping you learn how to apply the techniques to your own painting practice. And thanks for your kind words on the Venice painting, too kind!

      Speak soon,

  6. sahrish

    Hello! I absolutely love this impressionistic style of painting. I love your website and your videos. I am a broke medical student but I find myself needing to explore my creative side all the time. You have allowed me to learn about painting in the little free time I have.

    1. Will Kemp

      Cheers Sahrish,

      What a lovely message to receive!

      Hopefully you can enjoy the free tutorials and get some great results from them,



  7. sahrish

    THANK YOU! You have no idea how much positivity you are putting out into the world!

  8. Katalina

    Hello Will,

    I painted with acrylics for fun years ago and then life happened and I had put it aside and forgotten how much I missed it. About 2 weeks ago I stumbled across your website and on a Saturday night you inspired me to get out my paints, a knife palette, a cup of brew and biscuit and jump right in. After years of not painting it was pure joy to lather those vibrant colors onto the canvas. I had so much fun and absolutely loved the end result!!!!

    Thank you so much for re-connecting me to one of my passions and for having such a lively and humorous teaching style, useful information, tips and tutorials! I am now onto the landscape tutorial and plan to move through your free videos and courses over the next year.

    Will, have you considered providing feedback only for a fee? I see that you have it as part of one of your courses – but I know for myself right now just getting back into painting it would be great to get feedback on completed work.

    Thanks again for all that you do, inspire and create!

    1. Will Kemp

      Hi Katalina,

      So pleased to hear you’ve been inspired to get the tea out and get painting! And really great that you’re pleased and love the end result.

      Enjoy painting your way through the website!


      P.S. I have offered paid critiques sessions in the past but due to time commitment now only offer them in conjunction with a couple of the courses.

  9. Ian

    Almost finished this palette knife painting. And pleased to say it looks great. Love the colours and how the photo you start with (quite an ordinary, even dull image) can be transformed into something so colourful and interesting. Like others really appreciate your help and your excellent teaching style.

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Ian, pleased to hear you painting is looking great!


  10. Janet

    Have bought myself some acrylics, some board, brushes and easel. Haven’t painted for over 30 years………your site has been an inspiration…will have a go at painting some of the views where I live. Thanks

    1. Will Kemp

      Good one Janet, pleased you’re feeling inspired.

  11. Angana chatterjee

    Wow!! thanx a lot! Sir, thank you for widening my knowledge about art.

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