A personal favourite way of using acrylics is with a palette knife or spatula although I find it harder to do on a small canvas or board. For this technique paper will not do to paint on as the paint is applied much thicker and although you can get away with using a thick paper, you run the risk of tearing it all too easily if you are vigorously expressive. Any sturdy cardboard, or strong fabric stretched and stapled evenly over a wooden frame until it’s really tight (e.g. an old picture frame) is fine though.
Palette knives and spatulas come is a huge range of shapes and sizes, and are usually made from stainless steel or plastic. With a palette knife you can place, scrape, scratch, sweep, dab and even draw using the edge of it. Just as with brushes the range of shapes enables you to create effects quickly and include grooved, tapered, triangular, square and rounded tips as well as fan shapes. You can make your own from plastic but the plastic needs to be fairly thick to avoid it snapping. Palette knives can be rigid or flexible. A cheap and cheerful glue spreader is an excellent alternative (5 for £1) and one of my favourites but you could use an old kitchen palette knife or spatula or decorator’s trowel for larger scale mark making. Below are some examples of palette knife work from others.
One shortcut come trick with a brush or palette knife is to semi mix different colours before using your tool to apply the paint. I found it particularly useful for rendering the trunks of birch trees for example, but many artists like to do so for any subject matter. I promised flowers I think, so here’s a few examples of flowers using a palette knife some more streaky than others. Not all my examples here are using acrylics but the principle is the same whether it’s oils or acrylics that’s being applied.
Today I’m sharing a few links for some quick techniques especially for novices to try out on my Exploring Further page. So you might want to pause here to take a look before I share another example here as both posts are going live at the same time.