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From Smooth to Extreme: Texture in Painting

July 20, 2010
texture in paintingWhether you want a super-smooth finish or a rough, grainy feel, there are strategies you can use to enhance the texture of your painting. Whatever style you prefer, texture is not an element to be over-looked.

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If you’re painting style is highly detailed and realistic, you may want a smooth texture. To achieve a smooth surface for your paintings, you have to start with your support. Canvas has its own texture, so try a finer fabric like linen. Pre-stretched linen can be purchased from an art supply store. Another option is masonite board. This is what Lori McNee uses for her paintings. Read her tutorial on how to gesso a masonite panel.

Brushstroke Texture

One of the beauties of paint (oil especially) is the texture you can achieve simply by applying paint. Visible brushstrokes add another layer of interest to your work. From far away, the viewer can see the image you have rendered, up close they begin to see the paint and the way you’ve used it. Stapleton Kearns has an excellent article on how to prevent “licking,” the smoothing away of visible brushstrokes. I highly recommend reading this article!

Use Mediums

Gel mediums are a great way to add texture to your paintings. These are substances that you can use to prep your canvas to start with a textured ground or add to your paintings as you work. They come in a range of different textures. Read more about painting mediums.

Extreme Texture

Don’t be afraid to get wild and experiment with textures. You can use gel medium to glue almost any substance to your canvas and make richly textured paintings. Try things like tissue paper, saran wrap, sand, and anything else you can come up with. This can be an all-over texture, or localized to create a focal point. Take a look at Julia Trops’ still life painting. She is a great example of an artist using extreme texture.

The type of texture you use depends on your style and subject matter. Experiment with different techniques and decide what is right for you!


From → Painting

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