Review: RGM New Age Painting Knives

Definitely not ordinary painting knives

The New Age Painting Knives from RGM are definitely not your usual painting knives. These painting knives come in all sorts of weird and unexpected shapes, perfect for creating texture and pattern in paint. Whether you're spreading paint, scratching into wet paint, or printing with a shape, the possibilities are many.

I thought the knives were well made with comfortable handles; the blades thin and springy, responding to pressure like a good brush does. Below are the results of some playing around with the knives I did. I feel I've only just begun to explore the possibilities, and look forward to using them more.

Where to Buy These Painting Knives

Review RGM Painting Knife
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans

Because these painting knives are so different, not every art supply shop is going to stock them. Ask your local store if they'll order them, or check one of the large online art supplies stores. 

Inevitably, some shapes are going to work better for you than others, though I found it hard to predict which. If you're unsure and don't want to spend the money on a knife you may not use, try out the shape by cutting a piece of stiff cardboard to look like it. It won't be as springy as a knife, and will go soft and soggy in the paint, but should give you enough working time to a feel for the shape.

RGM Painting Knife No. 13: Frog's Foot

RGM Painting Knives no 13
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans

The knives only have numbers, not names, but I found myself giving them names. I think of #13 as "frog's foot knife". (My S.O. says it looks more like a crown to him.) It's quickly become my favorite, producing lovely lines of texture if you pull it through wet paint (great for hair and grass for starters) and small dots of color if you tap only the tips onto your canvas (great for Impressionist small flowers, for instance).

If you press the whole of the knife into paint and then print with it on your canvas, you've the making of a flower in no time at all. If you use a different color, or the original mixed with a little bit of another, for a second round of printed petals, the result will be more interesting.

RGM Painting Knife No. 14: Newt's Foot

RGM painting knife shape 14
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans

Knife #14 is very similar to #13, except it doesn't have the circles at the end. The effects it gives are quite similar, but narrower and sharper edges.

RGM Painting Knife No. 18: Dining Fork

RGM painting knife shape 18
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans

Given the shape of this painting knife, you may wonder why you wouldn't simply take one from your kitchen. Well, the shape may be similar, but a painting fork, I mean knife, is far thinner than an eating fork. So the prongs spring and bounce as you push against a canvas and then lift it (a bit like the bristles on a brush do), rather than being static.

No. 17 is also fork-shaped, but smaller. Both leave thin lines in wet paint, lovely for fine sgraffito-style hair.

RGM Painting Knife No. 19: Thin Leaf

RGM painting knife shape 19
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

This knife looks like a 'normal' thin painting knife, but its got two slits in it. Depending on how you angle the knife as you move it through the paint, these leave two thin lines in the paint or not. Using it to paint leaves on a plant or blades of grass were what immediately came to mind.

RGM Painting Knife No. 24: Fan

RGM painting knife shape 24
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans

Imagine how easy it would be to paint a picket fence with this knife! Dab in paint, dab on canvas, repeat until fence is done. It would also work for painting flowers with close-together petals.

#11 is similar to #24, but without slits from each point.

RGM Painting Knife No. 5: Long Wave

RGM painting knife shape 5
Photo © 2009 Marion Boddy-Evans

Having one smooth edge and one shaped, you can use one side of this knife to smoothly spread paint and the other to create texture.