Knife Art | Bower Power
Skip to content

Knife Art

2012 July 25
by Katie

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 :)

110 Responses leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    July 25, 2012

    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. July 25, 2012

    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. July 25, 2012

    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. KSColeman permalink
    July 25, 2012

    That looks freakin’ awesome! I love it!!!

  5. July 25, 2012

    We all paint in my house, but the son has an etsy shop: ( affordable art!)

    Art is subjective, and as such, it is totally up to the viewer to take away whatever they need from the art.

    Love your pallet knife on steroids art. Looks very fresh and cool.

  6. Stephanie permalink
    July 25, 2012

    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!

  7. Sarah C. permalink
    July 25, 2012

    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!

  8. July 25, 2012

    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?!

  9. July 25, 2012

    That’s so neat! I love it!

  10. Angie Lee permalink
    July 25, 2012

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

  11. July 25, 2012

    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! :)

  12. July 25, 2012

    This is beautiful, Katie!! I love it and the little nook of blues/greens you created. I might give this a try sometime!

  13. Jerri permalink
    July 25, 2012

    I’m totally copying this for my bedroom. So cute!!

  14. July 25, 2012

    Awesome! I love it!

  15. July 25, 2012

    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!

  16. July 25, 2012

    Looks fabulous! Great color scheme!! I love texture created with palette knife in different pieces of art

  17. beth permalink
    July 25, 2012

    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!

  18. July 25, 2012

    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! :)

  19. July 25, 2012

    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!

  20. July 25, 2012

    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!

  21. July 25, 2012

    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. :)

  22. July 25, 2012

    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?!

  23. Reenie permalink
    July 25, 2012

    That looks so cute. Love the color ~ cute table to fit right in the nook too!! :)

  24. July 25, 2012

    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!

  25. July 25, 2012

    How lovely! As someone who can’t paint worth anything, this actually looks doable.

  26. July 25, 2012

    Holy cool Batman. That would make awesome fabric. I say you send that over to spoonflower and get your sewing on!

  27. July 25, 2012

    That is so pretty. Nice job

  28. July 25, 2012

    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

  29. July 25, 2012

    How cool is this! Love it! On a side and random note, looking forward to the new nursery stories :)

  30. July 25, 2012

    I know this looks easy, but can I just commission you to make a duplicate for my office please!

  31. July 25, 2012

    SO gorgeous and inspiring!

  32. July 25, 2012

    Great job! I love painting. Here’s a link to some of my artwork. I still have a lot to upload to this page though.

  33. July 25, 2012

    I love this and the wheels are turning for my own!

  34. July 25, 2012

    I LOVE IT! I showed my mom and she was impressed (painting major in college :)

    It adds a lot to the space and really pulls the whole thing together.

  35. July 25, 2012

    Love this! And, really and truly, it looks like something even I can manage!

  36. Katie Jo permalink
    July 25, 2012

    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 permalink
      July 25, 2012

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

  37. July 26, 2012

    Looks good! Would love to see a wider angle shot of it like the first foyer pic in the post.

  38. Whitney permalink
    July 26, 2012

    Hi Katie,

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

  39. Ami permalink
    July 26, 2012

    Love this! Might even try this myself. :) Thank you!

  40. July 26, 2012

    This is such an amazing idea!

  41. July 26, 2012

    LOVE this crafty idea. I will have to try some kind of rendition of it soon. Thanks for sharing and congrats on your boy! Cute video you put together!

  42. Elizabeth permalink
    July 27, 2012

    LOVE it!!

  43. July 27, 2012

    Gorgeous! Love the colours and the texture and the spot in the entry way is perfect! Off to haul out some paints! (I’m a huge fan of DIY art, too. I have a whole whack that I’ve done here:

  44. July 27, 2012

    This post inspired me to create my own knife art. You could say I mentally pinned your work of art.

    I haven’t painted since middle school so that should tell everyone else contemplating giving this style of art a whirl that it isn’t very hard.

  45. Marissa permalink
    August 6, 2012

    This is awesome Katie!!

    I used it as inspiration for my own knife art. Thanks for making it look so simple!

  46. August 27, 2012

    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?

    • August 27, 2012

      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

  47. February 25, 2013

    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.

    • February 25, 2013

      Her rooster is awesome! I wish I were that talented!
      xo – kb

  48. Ashley Fitzgerald permalink
    May 17, 2013

    This is fantastic! I am moving in 2 weeks and this art project is first on my list!

  49. valeria permalink
    August 15, 2013

    I really like it! And the rooster’s absoltely fantastic|

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS