Using Palette Knives on a Canvas with Peter Terrin

Using Palette Knives on a Canvas with Peter Terrin


Peter Terrin, a professional acrylic painter, is known for his textured paintings, for which he uses primarily just palette knives. Read his artist profile article here to learn more about Peter's background and inspiration. As one of our Fuel Your Creativity Artists, Peter will be going through several tips, tricks, and techniques when painting to achieve the best results using Arteza's Acrylic Paint and Palette Knives. Keep reading to see what you can learn to add to your own artwork! 



List of Supplies:

  • Palette knife
  • A paint brush 
  • Acrylic Paint 
  • A canvas


Applying the Correct Pressure

 Peter achieves the eye-catching textures in his paintings by applying light pressure with palette knives and finds using excess pressure creates straight, dull lines. Instead, after you've applied your desired amount of paint onto the palette knife, let it "float' across the canvas by gliding the palette knife in the desired direction. Peter finds that using this technique creates much more depth and adds, "once the painting is on the wall and you have a spot on top of it, that texture creates tiny little shadows that give it an extra dimension." He uses this method in all of his artwork and continuously strives to create unique effects by using palette knives of various shapes and sizes. 



Color Harmony 

 If you use a color in just one part of the painting, that part will naturally stand out; sometimes, this is useful when you want to create a focal point or impactful contrast. However, for painting portraits, Peter Terrin keeps his color palette harmonious. When Peter is painting, he likes to ensure that any color that stands out in his pieces is distributed equally throughout the composition. If a subject he is painting has green eyes, for example, Peter takes that same shade of green from the eyes and spreads it throughout the painting. He finds that if he didn't include that shade in the rest of the painting, it would look 'haunting.' Creating this consistency throughout Peter's paintings is one of his signature painting techniques.



Creative Surface of Choice: Canvas

 Visual artist Peter Terrin's preference for creative surfaces is stretched canvases. In the beginning stages of his career, he painted on plywood he would get from hardware stores to save money; however, he finds that canvas is much easier to ship (since it's more lightweight), and "it just feels better." Peter Terrin notes that he rolls up his paintings and ships them to clients worldwide, and they take care of stretching the canvas over wooden bars. He acknowledges that "that's the safest way to ship art and the most cost-effective way to ship art, and you cannot do that when you paint on wood, so canvas is it for me." 


Peter especially enjoys and favors working on large canvases, and he encourages others to pursue the same, "if you want to paint big, paint big, yes it's a bit more expensive, the canvases are more expensive, you use more paint, but if you can afford it, and you want to paint big, go big." 




Advice for Artists 

 Having decades of self-taught experience and artistic exploration, Peter's advice is: "Don't doubt yourself, if you convince yourself that you have it in you to make a living with your art, you just gotta go for it. If I would have listened to all the critics that said, 'no, this is not what we're looking for', art galleries said my work was too commercial as if commercial is a bad thing. Keep believing in yourself, put in the hard work, success doesn't come from one day to the other." 




Encourage yourself to try these techniques in your next painting! We hope this Fuel Your Creativity techniques blog has provided you with new ways to elevate your craft, and has inspired you to jumpstart your artistic journey. 


1 comment

Thank you. That was interesting. I’m not trying to become a professional painter at all, but at 66 I am trying to enter the art world for my own sake. I have spent two years now collecting different supplies and trying things out and am learning so much and learning what I like to do the best.

Working with the palette knives reminds me of decorating a cake. Cake decorators use all sorts of things for different effects as well.


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