Palette Knife for Tree Bark in Acrylics

acrylic techniques, palette knife, tree bark,

Its fun, its relaxing. Its a great acrylic technique, perfect for creating textural tree bark effects.

acrylic techniques, palette knife, tree bark,
Acrylic techniques Palette Knife

I’ve always loved the work of Georgia O’Keefe and how she created new worlds for us to explore….all from just the ordinary folds and petals of a flower!

I get lost in the close up abstracted patterns that nature offers and tree bark provides a wonderful opportunity for just that.


Acrylic Techniques, Colours and Tools

The palette knife acrylic technique, for me,  is great for landscape paintings and semi abstract techniques. It is an excellent painting technique for  ‘loosening up’ especially beginners.

I find it stimulates not only my own creativity, imagination, freedom – but those of my students as well.  They love it!


 Acrylic Paint Colours

Colours chosen reflected my feelings on the day. I wanted a warmer lighter summer like palette.  I’m not compelled to duplicate the bark that is set before me.  I’m influenced by it…just not compelled to replicate it.

I felt the need to maintain a limited palette: white, permanent rose, burnt sienna and hanse yellow light.

Plenty of Paint is needed.

I did big broad thick buttery layers of paint with a well loaded knife.   With each glide  of the knife across the canvas, I then fully reloaded the knife again.

I know, it seems ‘such a waste of paint’ but it really isn’t.  By putting enough paint on the first go, I’m more encouraged by the results than when I’m mean and stingy with the paints.  (Then,  end up trashing the whole thing… That’s wasteful!)


Design Technique and Format

I chose to zoom in and not paint the whole tree, or the whole branch.

The reason I’d been drawn to these trees and took the photos in the first place, was the bark. My eyes went straight to the fascinating patterns and pretty much stayed there.  So, I wanted to stay close to what had originally inspired me.

tree bark close up photograph
Bark Photograph
tree bark burnt umbers
Bark in Burnt Umbers


tree bark in warm siennas
Yellow Ochre and Golden Siennas Tree Bark


Yes,  I added sand.

Probably not the typical thing you’d think of when painting tree bark.

But, upon closer inspection of the photos,  the bark has dimple like dots scattered about. So the sand actually works!






Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

9 thoughts on “Palette Knife for Tree Bark in Acrylics

      1. That’s what I can’t do with oil pastels and would love to try another medium for the opportunity to truly paint with a knife.

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  1. Just beautiful! And Georgia Okeefe is one of my favorite artists who spent time living in my neck of the woods…Lake George in the Adirondacks! Thanks for sharing this post. The tree bark is terrific. ~Rita

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