A painting created with a palette knife has a different energy and the impact of colour is immediate. The purity of colour that can be achieved when painting with a knife is very different compared to a brush. The wet colour can be placed on top of another without blending the two together, so it stays fresh and pure whereas a brush flattens and muddies the colours together. I always try to finish the painting in one session, wet on wet; therefore the application of paint is direct, fresh and fast. If I need to go back to the painting, it is only to reinforce the dark, light and some bright colours in the foreground.

I especially like using this technique in painting nature themes but I have also very successfully painted many portraits. To learn how to use a palette knife I strongly recommend starting with a landscape. It is certainly an easier and a more forgiving subject than a portrait. Choosing a simple but interesting scene with a good composition is essential. Painting with a palette knife is also ideal for plain air painting and can be successfully done with acrylic paints as well.

I make some definite decisions about the work before I start. As it progresses I am open to “listening” to my painting. At some stage the painting will start dictating it’s own direction and you need to recognise that moment and be flexible to make some changes.

IMG_0004 copy 4At the beginning of the work, all the elements of the painting should be looked at.

There are 7 important elements of painting that I always consider and follow.

  1. Idea
  2. Composition
  3. Drawing
  4. Value
  5. Colour
  6. Edges
  7. Texture
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Painting with a palette knife has a very long history. As early as the 18th century, artists such as Rembrandt and Francisco Goya, 19th century, Gustave Courbet and Paul Cezanne and in the 20th century, Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse, just to name a few, used a palette knife in the creation of their paintings.

I discovered the palette knife through teaching, when in a desperate attempt to make some of my student’s be more loose in depicting their subject matter I introduced them to the palette knife. Many of them embraced the technique quite easily and some did not. However this action resulted with me falling in love with palette knife painting.

My usual approach is very representational and therefore realistic. I have found that many hours of concentrated effort with brushes and many layers of glazes have been replaced by the rather fast work of a palette knife. How refreshing!

My signature artwork Fantastic Realism, is demanding and emotional. Because of this I enjoy from time to time changing themes, picking up the palette knife and painting some beautiful scenery and landscapes referenced from my extensive travels around the world while conducting art tours. I then re-live my beautiful experiences again through my paintings.

I regularly run workshops, teaching students and artists how to use palette knife. You can find more information about them on my website under classes & workshops.

Silence - Acrylic

NZ, South Island, $1,200

Margaret River, oil copy

WA, Margaret River, $1,500, SOLD

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Monday is a special day for me; my computer is switched off for the majority of the day because it is when I paint with Steve in the studio!

As you may know I am preparing for couple of solo exhibitions: one of them about the Kimberley. Here is my most recent painting (all done with palette knife).


Painting with a friend is great stuff. You should try to find yourself a buddy to bounce the ideas off or come to our Art Club on Wednesday, Friday or Saturday. You create a friendship with like-minded artists, you learn from each other and you have our tuition and helping hand, all wrapped up into 3 hours of creative energy (they go far too fast).

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Besides being challenged with constructive criticism I get loads of other input from Steve, like music education and funny English humour. Of course we also talk about the classes and workshops and here is Steve’s summary of the last life drawing session and the last workshop.

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Hi Art Lovers,

What a great night that was enjoyed by everyone who attended the life drawing session last Wednesday, and a little light instruction by Jana and Steve was a huge success. We will continue to do this for anyone who needs instruction for the next few sessions. As usual our regulars will be invited to draw as in previous sessions. This time we had a female model and we did a combination of short and long poses. Looking forward to the next one which is Wednesday 2nd March, same time same place. Book soon if you have not been before.

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Yesterday was the first of the contouring workshops (abstracts) which I would like to give a big thank you to those who attended, and for making it a wonderful day. Everyone started a little shakily at the beginning of the day after the power point presentation, but by lunch time there was definitely an air of satisfaction in the studio as people started to improve their techniques. The day finished around 3.30pm when everyone went home with waggy tails. My advice is to keep practicing and at the next one you can show the others how it’s done. Thanks again, great work.

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Kind Regards,


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