Knife Art

Don’t be scared.  Nobody was harmed in the making of this art. 

I am no trained artist…just simply a fan of things that look attractive to me…but I’m truly a believer that any piece of inspired creation can be deemed “ART”.  It doesn’t matter if it was done by a professional or a stay-at-home-pregnant-mom-with-legos-in-her-bra-and-syrup-in-her-hair, on purpose or accidentally (Mona?  Totally a spill splatter.) and does not need anyone but your stamp of approval.  Some will disagree.  But to those museum curators, I say….show me a cloud and I will show you a woman eating bacon. 

No literally.  I will eat some bacon while I explain the cloud shape.

Disclaimer aside…let’s talk art for a second…and not just any art….palette knife art.  Palette knives look like frosting spatulas…and we all know what that looks like, can I get an amen to cream cheese frosting?!  It’s a tool that artists can use to mixing or applying paint.  Their flexible metal blade makes it totally easy to shmear paint together to make more abstract, contemporary paintings. 

Check out some of these awesome and inspiring palette knife art pieces on etsy….

That rooster makes me say Cockadoodledoo…the middle one is so moody and so beautiful – I think I have ten spots in my house ready for it right this instant….and the last one is gorgeous with that texture and movement.  Love them all.  A lot.

And they inspired me to do a little something for our foyer.  That little nook near the stairway was looking sad and bare. 

Nothing a little boost of artwork can’t fix, right?

The only problem is that I don’t actually own a palette knife.  small snaffoo.  I do, like any DIYer, own a drywall mud knife (or six of them)…and my small one is really old and more flexible than a lot of others.  So I broke out my canvas, the drywall mud knife and seven different types of craft paint…all in a similar color scheme of blues and greens.  

It helps to squirt a little of each color on your board so you can start with it close together….you are gonna shmear them all together anyway…

Also – it makes the art so much better to have different ends of the spectrum colorwise. I used the dark navy blue for depth and the pastel green to add light.  Just keep it in mind when picking your paints that contrast is a good thing.

Then you are just gonna scrape and dip and scrape and dip and repeat it a bazillion times.  It’s not about getting lots of paint – it’s about just getting different paint on your knife.  Don’t be scared to mix it up and layer paint on paint.

Then you just drag the knife down on the canvas.  I decided to do an easy square pattern.  It’s nice because the width of the knife always stays the same…and you can eyeball how far down to drag your knife to make it relatively even.  You can even layer more after the fact – dragging different colors over your first drag. 

Then just repeat…over and over.  I was sure to dip in a variety of colors….if I felt like the line was getting too green or too light, I just dipped in a different color for a couple drags.

It only took me about 15 minutes to do the entire thing.  Easiest painting ever.  Seriously – a child could do this one.

And hanging it up added a big splash of color in the foyer. 

I found the turquoise metal chunky B at Hobby Lobby.  And while I was there, I spotted the giant blue glass vase in the clearance section.  God bless the 70% sales.  The bottles are really old and hail from Pier 1 (they were also clearance and once in a while I still see them floating around at Goodwill).  And speaking of Goodwill, the little dog monks is one of my favorite cheeky finds. 

So that’s my new look for the stairway landing….it’s a strange nook with curved walls and a triangle shape but hopefully now it looks a little more finished.  And for a fifteen minute investment and no cost (since I already had the canvas just sitting in my craft closet – and used the drywall knife and craft paint instead of expensive oil paint and a real palette knife)…it definitely is a step up. 

Have you been crafting lately?  Anyone craft up an art project lately?  Or maybe you are just dreaming about getting paint under your fingernails?  On a slightly off note, I just watched my first episode of Craft Wars….love it…except honestly the judges seem a little odd to me…like they are totally obsessed with everything being way glittery and over-the-top colorful.  What’s wrong with a little luxe in the craft world people?!  Not that I don’t snort my fair share of glitter…but seriously, I’d love to see a really chic craft.  Make it happen Tori :)



  1. Amy says

    Love it!!! I was wondering if there was an easy way to do that kind of art. Thanks so much for showing us how easy it can be! Thinking of all the ways I can use this.

  2. says

    Love it! That area looks so great and inviting now! The art gives me hope. My husband is the painter in our family, but I could actually do this. Thanks for the boost.

  3. says

    I always wondered how that kind of art is made! I am less of a trained artist than you. Your jellyfish art is gorgeous. Anyway, this is perfect! I love it.

  4. Stephanie says

    I love this sooooo much! Everything together looks perfect but the actual art looks awesome. My mind is spinning with all the things I could do! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Sarah C. says

    Katie I love what you have done! It looks sooooo good!
    What would you suggest if you have a very small area in the front of your house? Do you think it is wierd to put artwork as soon as you open your door on a wall? Thanks for your help!

  6. says

    I love your little entry nook! The painting looks awesome in the space! I’ve been working on a little art project for our guest bedroom and I swear it’s turned into the longest project ever. Am I the only one that turns a simple project into a three month long affair?!

  7. Angie Lee says

    That is awesome! I love the color scheme and it all works together well. You sure are a great crafty girl!

  8. says

    I LOVE IT!!!! And I TOTALLY agree about Craft Wars! My husband and I were watching it last night and we were discussing how it’s not our style of crafting, that we wanted to see things that were more modern and chic. I want to see something that I might actually want to make or might inspire me with a new idea for something. I did, however learn that spray paint will melt Styrofoam. Good to know! :)

  9. says

    This is one of my favorite DIY’s that you’ve posted. I love the colors and I think the art is actually something I could do myself! (I’m an awful DIY’er) – great post!

  10. beth says

    Love your art. I have the perfect place for one just like it ( in my colors of course ) Anyway, I know what you mean about craft wars, the judges don’t have my taste obviously, because what I see in those projects is a huge waste of craft materials. There has been nothing made that anyone would want for their home. I quit watching after 3 shows, because it just made me covet that wall of craft supplies and the wood room!

  11. says

    Thanks for sharing your project and it’s inspiration! I love what you came up with, and also the circle chunky paint piece. I agree with the previous comment – I can totally picture it in a bathroom as well! And I think if the paint can be used for outdoor projects, it might hold up in the bathroom okay, no??

    Unless I come across something absolutely amazing, I don’t think I’ll buy store art again – these ideas are beautiful and easy! I suppose it’s about finding the right size canvas at that point ;)

    Here’s a project I did recently – saw a horse head in Pottery Barn catalog and it inspired me to do a couple simple silhouettes using the image:

    Thanks again!

    Oh, and enjoy your time with your son before number two comes…I have two boys (4 &2) and they are the loves of my life, and they are a handful! :)

  12. says

    Beautifully done! Who wouldn’t buy that? When you get tired of it, sell it! This would look awesome anywhere in the home but it sure would class up that awkward oblong blank wall above the potty that some of us have!

  13. says

    I am so excited to try this. I have been wanting to do some kind of canvas art myself that is simple, yet looks really difficult and artsy! What a great way to capture some colors into a new space. Thanks for the inspiration… woo hoo for knife art!

  14. says

    that space looks awesome!!! love the colors, love the way you cranked that out in such a short time, and love the how-to explanation you put together. :)

  15. says

    Hey I like it! I just took an Art Aesthetics class for my masters program so I could enlighten you with what makes are good or bad but I’ll refrain. DIY art is so much fun isn’t it?!

  16. says

    Love your ideas and your blog! I was just snooping around reading your old posts and just realized that your wedding anniversary is going to be the same as mine! So cool!

  17. says

    I’ve just finished a post on DIY/free art and I’ve been looking for inspiration for a canvas I can add to the loungeroom, me thinks this is it! It looks pretty schmicko so fingers crossed

  18. Katie Jo says

    Love it, Katie! So great! The art is amazing, of course, but I’ve had my eye on those chunky letters from Hob Lob since they came out and you know what?!?! They don’t have an “F”!!!! Really? They skip right over our last name! Boo! They foyer looks so cute and fresh! Great job!

    • Katie Jo says

      Oh and craft wars has been a huge disappointment! They are not given enough time to create anything well and are judged so strictly!

  19. Whitney says

    Hi Katie,

    Just wanted to say I’m really enjoying your blog these days. Good mix of family & DIY! Keep the posts coming. :)

  20. Jb says

    I’m a professional photo stylist and interior designer…I just wanted to point out that that nook is for a plant, like a large tree. To have two tables in your foyer is very odd and redundant. The table in the middle is classic and for flowers and your keys and wallet or what not. A second table is just for useless clutter. Also your styling is very odd, why would you need a basket full of blankets in a foyer?

    • says

      Haha…I’m no stylist and I definitely can’t keep a large plant alive! Ha! And the basket full of blankets right there is actually useful to me…whenever I’m running out the door to a photoshoot I grab a couple so I have a place for folks to sit!
      To each his own I guess!
      xo kb

  21. says

    Nice post and tutorial! Fun to see you use my friend Karen’s rooster as an example of palette knife painting and very nice of you to link back to her Etsy page. Your painting turned out great.

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