Palette and painting knives are a fantastic tool for all artists - mixed media, art journaling, traditional - and ideal for use with texture pastes, mediums and paints. They are used for painting, spreading, drawing, marking, measuring (not everything has to be measured in centimetres or inches!), guiding, mixing paint, scraping and so much more! They're just a useful little tool to have in the studio.
Whether you use a high quality Liquitex palette knife, a plastic Dina Wakley Media palette knife or the butter knife from the kitchen drawer it doesn't really matter. Its the art that is important, the process of creativity! Good tools simply make it easier to do certain things like smooth gesso or draw details in texture paste. As with most things, you get what you pay for.
Good quality stainless steel palette knives are very nice to use. I don't recommend ones that say 'carbon steel' or 'steel' as eventually they will rust or corrode. They are cheaper and a good alternative, but make sure you wash and dry them properly or it will rust, especially near the handle. Unless you love to use rust in your artwork and don't mind the colour!
The metal palette and painting knives have thin and flexible blades, and are well balanced so are easier to use than the plastic ones of the same size. They are perfect for smooth blending or intricate detailed work.
The Liquitex knives are a larger painting knife and have ergonomically designed, comfortable wooden handles. The 18 unique and interesting shapes (coming soon to Art by Jenny) are made with finest stainless steel that resists rust and corrosion.
The solid stainless steel blades like Liquitex (pictured) are sure to last a lifetime, and while they may get paint or medium all over the lovely wooden handle, the blade will stay in great condition. Rust and corrosion free.
Their shapes intrigue me and I'd love to have them all :) I think my next one will be the big leaf shape as its so different to all the others I have. I can see me using it to make giant leaves on a canvas with texture paste, then marking in the veins with a skewer. Or waves of an ocean!
The Dina Wakley Media palette knife is made from a durable and easy to clean, one-piece molded plastic. Its cheap and light, so great for carrying around with your art journal. I have a few of them as I tend to use them at the same time, washing them all at the end of the day. One each for each colour of texture paste and gesso. I use my metal ones with paint.
Plastic palette knives are very different to their metal relatives (not just because they're plastic).
Its more like using a regular plastic picnic knife except that its thin, smooth and flexible. Its light too, which means anyone can use it - even very young children or people with injuries or arthritis.
A picnic knife, while made of similar plastic, has a serrated edge which makes great designs in texture paste, but being thick and stiff, it doesn't spread paint or paste very easily. Try buttering toast with a steak knife and you'll see what I mean.
As an artist, I just use whatever is at hand including my palette knives, icecream sticks, skewers, ends of paint brushes and knives from the cutlery drawer (old ones, not the ones we eat with). Sometimes you want to use cutlery, other times you need the accuracy and smoothness of an artist's tool.
Whatever you use, immerse yourself in and enjoy the creative process - then admire your end result.