American Flag Palette Knife Tutorial

This American Flag Palette Knife Tutorial is a fun lesson that is perfect for the patriotic season. Enjoy that and a roundup of all my patriotic paint projects!

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The patriotic season is here, and I love to make fun creations with beautiful red, white, and blue colors. Over the years, I have created so many different types of patriotic paintings. I wanted to share all of those right here as a bit of a patriotic painting roundup. Below you can find information about so many different patriotic-themed paintings to make your painting collection filled with American pride. Also, below the summaries of our past paintings, you will find a brand-new painting:  I know you will love these! 

Patriotic Whimsical Bird Painting

Chrisite Hawkings holding her mixed media pad with a blue bird, that has a redwing with gold polka dots on it. The bird has a gold crown and holding the American flag.

How cute is this Miss America Birdie?! In this painting, I give you a step-by-step guide for painting my signature whimsical bird with a patriotic theme. One of the things I love about this one is incorporating the sweet nature of the bird with love for our country. In this tutorial, you will practice color blending and detailing that brings this cute little bird to life. You will love this precious Miss America Birdie!

American Birdie painting on a mixed media pad. A blue bird with a red wing and gold polka dots on the wing. The bird has a gold crown and holding an American Flag.

Patriotic Gnome Painting

Who Doesn’t love Gnomes? They are just so adorable! I really love this charming Patriotic Gnome Painting. With this cute little guy, we get to practice creating the shape of the gnome and building on top of those shapes with fun patriotic colors and symbols in our mixed media pads. I even provide you with a template to make it super easy to dive into this painting. This is a great way to share your patriotic joy in a fun and quirky way.

Black background with gold and silver fireworks. A Gnome with a festive red and white stripped had and blue and white stars. The gnome is holding a red and white polka dot windmill.

Americana Mason Jar Bouquet Painting

A gold paint pen and a black sharpie marker on a mixed media pad. On the Mixed media pad there is a mason jar with USA painted on the front. Inside of the jar are colorful flowers and an american flag.

The Americana Mason Jar Bouquet is definitely one of our most popular ones for the season! The rustic charm of a mason jar paired with the beauty of a colorful bouquet creates a timeless and heartwarming image. I especially love this patriotic twist on the mason jar bouquet. In this fun painting, we will combine patriotism and art to create a beautiful floral arrangement with pops of red, white, and blue in a mason jar. My tutorial gives you tips on how to arrange flowers and other fun elements to create an Americana home decor item perfect for this fun patriotic season.

A painted mason jar with USA on the front. Filled with colorful flowers and an American flag.

Mixed Media Americana Flag

Mixed media flag made out of wood, has off white starts with accents in black.

For the Mixed Media Americana Flag, we will explore using a variety of art mediums to create a rustic and simple American flag. You can grab any old piece of scrap wood to make your flag. I used a vertical shape so it would fit on my front porch and beside my fireplace mantel, but you can use any shape. You could even do this on a canvas, mix media pad, or on fabric. Pick whatever you would like! I loved getting to use more of a folk-art style in this art painting. The tutorial will teach you how to use different textures and patterns for this fun display of patriotism!

Rustic Americana Flag painted in Red, White, and Blue. 3 off white stars at the top with a blue background. The bottom is red and white stripes.

Fireworks Over Water Painting

Bright Bold colors of yellow and orange, blue, purple, white, green, teal and pink paint strokes make fireworks in a dark sky.

While this “Fireworks Over Water” painting isn’t a flag, red, white, or blue specific, we all know that the Fourth of July is synonymous with fireworks. So, I just had to throw this art project in this patriotic painting round-up. This fun painting captures those beautiful fireworks we all enjoy in early July and the pretty sparkle they can create with their reflection over the water. In this step-by-step guide, I’ll walk you through how to create a scenic night sky and water surface. You will learn fun techniques like blending, creating light effects, and capturing movement. Join me in this tutorial as we recreate those fun fireworks moments.

In this Fireworks over water painting, bright bold colors of yellow and orange, blue, purple, white, green, teal and pink paint strokes make fireworks in a dark sky over water shining reflections of each of those bold colors.

American Flag Palette Knife Painting

Last but certainly not least, I am going to show you my newest piece! This Flag painting was honestly so much fun and I loved watching how it came together live with you on Facebook! In this painting, we will tackle how to create a fun American flag with a palette knife. If you love getting messy with paint, you will love this! If you tend to be a little more type A, jump into this one and stretch yourself, and just HAVE FUN!! You will have a new appreciation for palette knives after this painting!

What will I need to paint an American Flag with palette knives?

Painting with a Palette Knife

If painting with a palette knife sounds scary, don’t worry! For Starters, I highly encourage you to try it out because most of the women I have taught over the last five years online fell in love with it. In addition, palette knife painting is a completely different look and technique than painting with a brush. In this tutorial, we will go through some of the palette knife painting techniques. So, if you’re brand new to this, don’t worry about it. I’m going to walk you through everything. We’re not going to paint 50 stars on here, and there’s not going to be exactly 13 stripes. This is going to be a loose interpretation of the flag.

A palette knife painting loose interpretation of an American Flag. On the left side a blue square with lots of spatter, dots, and brush strokes in mostly blue with accents of gold black, white. Red and white textured stipes with spatters of gold and some paint strokes of a lighter blue to accent the flag stripes.

Start on Paper

Sometimes I just go straight to canvas, but usually, I like to start on paper by thinking about what I want to do. Then I get those thoughts on paper. It helps remind me of all the ideas that I had and allows me to do a loose sketch. So, for this one, it is going to be a very loose abstract American flag.

Textured or Pre-used Surface

This is a great painting to try on those canvases and other surfaces that you maybe started painting or didn’t like a painting. I do that a lot. I actually have a stack of unfinished canvases in my closet. You can paint over those with Gesso. The texture that may come through is totally fine for this type of palette knife painting. 

Using Gesso to cover a previously painted canvas and create a new clean canvas to paint on.

You can see here that I am starting with a surface that is already painted on. Then I painted over it with Gesso. I followed that up by lightly tracing the flag’s outline and texturing the surface. 

I’ve added modeling paste over this with the palette knife to give it this texture. It has scrapes and distressing in it. You will see why I did that here later in the tutorial. Be sure to give your texturized canvas or surface at least 24 hours to dry if you are adding texture using modeling paste.

How to Convert Craft Paint to Heavy-Bodied Paint

We’re going to paint the canvas dark first. Then for the stars and added interest, we’re going to be doing some splatter paint. Those are some of the techniques that you’re going to be learning today. 

I am using heavy-bodied acrylic paints. Do not feel like you need to go out and buy all of this. You don’t have to. I’m just going to show you another way that you can do this. If you’ve only got craft paints at home, you can use palette knives with just craft paint even without adding anything to it just to create the look.

A photo of gel medium and modeling paste. The gel medium has less texture than the modeling paste.

But, if you want the paint to be a little thicker and come off your canvas a little bit more, you can add gel medium to your craft paints. Simply grab your color craft paints, apply a little to your palette, and scoop up your gel medium onto the top of your craft paint. Begin mixing them together. If you wanted it to be thicker just add more gel medium. 

Gel medium does also extend the drying time. So, it stays wetter longer, but not by like a ton. If you use a gel medium to thicken your craft paint, it will not change the color of your paint. But, if you use modeling paste to thicken your craft paint, it will change the color. It adds white to your paint. 

You may find this blog post on the difference between gel medium and modeling paste gel medium helpful.

How to Paint an American Flag with Palette Knives

Go ahead and grab your desired reds, white, blues, and black paints. You will notice I even grabbed some turquoise, and I loved it! I usually like to have a variety of colors. I don’t like to just paint straight from the bottle onto the canvas. You will find I like to color mix a little bit and just play with things to see what happens. So, grab your paints, and let’s get started!

Christie Hawkins holding her palette knife American flag painting.

1. Start by adding a quick base to cover your canvas with some black paint using a Filbert Brush. I like the Filbert Brush from my brush set. This brush is great for when you’ve got large areas you’ve got to fill in that have texture. Grab a little bit of water to help you push the paint into the grooves. Also, paint the edges black.

2. As your surface dries, go ahead and add blue to the corner using your palette knife because it won’t matter if that mixes with black. You’re going to notice, I am not being super nitpicky with this. This is not about precision palette knife art. This is a messy looser style. So, it’s definitely more of an abstract. I don’t even make crisp, clear edges with the blue square.

3. Then, grab a little bit of white and throw that in. I like to do this when the blue is still wet because the white blends in with the blue. If we wait for it to dry and scrape white over it, we’re going to get a completely different look. So, keep that in mind when you’re playing with the palette knife. You can create different textures and looks based on whether you’re doing wet on wet or wet on dry. 

4. Next, grab a longer, skinnier brush out of my palette knife set and your darker, deep red to put on the back side of your palette knife. Begin working it along a thick horizontal line to loosely represent the red stripes on the flag. Think of it like icing on a cake. Go back and forth with your palette knife. If you want to, you can measure out and kind of plan the stripes out, but I just wing it. 

5. Begin to throw in some of the other lighter and brighter reds on top. I even used my new favorite Fluorescent Red from Liquitex!  If you don’t want the lighter colors to be thick lines, you’re not going to put as much pressure down. Just come in and lightly drag it. You may need to occasionally flip the palette knife over to get the excess that goes on the front and pull it over on the backside. Don’t worry about whether your lines are perfectly straight or even. Just play with it. It’s not going to be even. We don’t care if it’s even. Think about a flag waving in the wind. Let your lines be a little wavy. 

6. Then, restart that process but with your white stripes in between the red. If you want it nice and clean and you don’t want any of your colors mixing in, you will want to let it dry and avoid touching that red. It was obviously still wet when I began painting the white stripes. I don’t mind the mixture. Feel free to add a little touch of blue to your white for more fun. I like the occasional scrape of the red in there, too. And, not every stripe has to be the same. That would also be boring if every stripe was the same. 

Red, White stripes accented with blue and gold. Very textured.

8. Go back and work in more bits of color in the different parts of the flag. Add a milky white to your bright white and even some red and blue. Add touches of blue and white to your red. You have to just roll with it. I love the messy look of it though. This is the kind of stuff you can’t plan. It just happens when you’re playing with a palette knife. 

9. Grab a super shiny gold to add a little bit of sparkle. My fave is 24K Gold Extreme Sheen by Decoart.  Then, you will need something to splatter with. A regular paintbrush can hold a decent amount of paint, like a larger round brush, or a toothbrush. Load it up with watered-down gold paint and begin flicking and tapping your brush of choice.  It is going to be messy, so I would suggest moving your stuff out of the way. Or if you are like me, you can just enjoy the gold splatter on your phone, computer, and everything! LOL. You want to splatter the gold all over the flag.

10. Then grab some white paint, water it down, and splatter that mostly in the blue square section of the flag. You can even do a tiny bit of white splatter over the stripes if you want. It’s totally up to you!

Finished painting on canvas of palette knife tutorial with Christie. This American flag inspired painting is a loose interpretation using modeling paste, red, white, blue/ paint, & teal too.

And, that’s it! That was so much fun! Don’t you love how fun and abstract the flag turned out? I love the texture and combinations of colors throughout this palette knife painting. Be sure to scroll back up and check out the other patriotic paintings available on the blog. I hope you have a wonderful red, white, and blue season!

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Patriotic Whimsical Bird 

Patriotic Gnome Painting 

Americana Mason Jar Bouquet

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