Oil Painting Lessons - How To Paint Texture

Student Texture Painting Examples

Texture painting of a custard apple
Texture painting of a custard apple
Texture painting of a lotus pod
Texture painting of a lotus pod
Texture painting of a shell
Texture painting of a shell
Texture painting of cauliflower
Texture painting of cauliflower

Creating Recognizable Patterns

Texture can either refer to the touch and feel of something or the way something is painted tonally that creates the illusion of depth which refers to the object being painted.

This means that you can achieve texture in your painting with brushstrokes or palette knives, or through painting in a flat manner, but altering the value scale as you go to give the illusion that something has texture. Either way, texture is an important part in creating an interesting painting that keeps the eye busy. In a composition that has more than one object, it helps to differentiate the objects from one another, (so your apple isn't the same as a pillow). And, if you are only painting one object, this object should stand out, even perhaps, "jump off" the canvas.



The Exercise Palette

You'll notice that the images in this article are all monochromatic, (in the same color family). This exercise is a follow-up to learning how to paint a Value Scale. The students were restricted to using a Raw Sienna Value Scale. This means that Raw Sienna is their mid-tone. The scale goes from white to raw sienna and from raw sienna to black. Black is created by mixing Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber. Refer to the article on How To Paint a Value Scale for more information on mixing colors.

This color palette is an alternative to Grisaille/Grey Scale to be used for underpainting. If you use this for your underpainting while working in oil, keep the highest highlights your underpainting - this is a secret trick that not all painters know about. This color combination is usually brighter than white at the end of glazing paint colors.

Creating A Texture Study

This is a giant experiment which is meant as practice and play.

  • Find 6 different items that each have a very different texture. Examples could be; crumpled paper, foil wrapper, flower, plush toy, vegetable, piece of cloth, cushion or a pine cone.
  • Divide your canvas into 6 parts.
  • Start with one object at a time
  • Make sure your value scale of paint is prepared ahead of time so you don't need to make paint as you go
  • Only paint a small section of your object and enlarge it to fill the entire box. You'll notice in the samples that the more the box was filled in, the more interesting and successful the paintings were.
  • Look at the shapes and texture in your object. If there are lots of tiny shapes (bumps), consider painting a large background shape first to emulate the shading of a the shape the texture lives on, (this is called color blocking).
  • Paint large shapes first, working towards smaller shapes
  • If a texture is countable - such as holes in a lotus pod, count them out, mark them on your canvas lightly in vine or willow charcoal before you begin
  • For small shapes, use small brushes. Experiment with dabbing, scumbling (blending paint together with a dry brush, almost scrubbing the paint around the canvas), thick brush strokes and even smearing paint with a palette knife.

The final result will look abstract. The challenge of this exercise is to try to get each one of your boxes looking completely different from the others. Good luck and have fun!

Texture Study Examples

Student Texture Study
Student Texture Study
Student Texture Study
Student Texture Study
Student Texture Study
Student Texture Study

Related Articles

If you enjoyed this exercise, please visit my other hubs. I have been teaching painting at ArtSpace in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the past 6 years and am currently putting up my Beginning Painting Syllabus. Please visit my other articles:

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