4 Ways to Add Texture to your Paintings

Updated: Apr 4, 2019


Undoubtedly, you can forge wonders with a paintbrush and a palette of colors, though certainly there may be times where you feel that this combination is a little bland. I am not going to lie, it is fairly difficult to paint something, other than a three-dimensional object, that is truly eye-catching on a two-dimensional surface. Artists often try to overcome the limits of two dimensional painting by using various tints and shades to create illusions, but in all honesty, these illusions merely conjure a visual stimulus similar to the one we receive when viewing photographs.


Even if you are entirely happy with the paint on canvas combination, I encourage you to implement some of the suggestions I have that will add remarkable texture to your work and will further arouse the visual stimuli of your viewers!


Here are the following techniques that I will describe shortly:

  • Torn Cardboard

  • Concrete

  • Gesso (bubble wrap applicable to technique)

  • Newspaper

Torn Cardboard

Texture Profile: Rustic, Layered, and Irregular

Source: https://creativemarket.com/The_Dusty_Inklab/2146457-Worn-Torn-Cardboard-Texture-Vol.-1/screenshots/#screenshot2

Cardboard, easily accessible! Surely you have some extra pieces of cardboard lying around somewhere in a storage unit. This technique works best if you're looking to create a collage of sorts and to give your artwork a rustic feel.


Source: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/318559373627297900/

For this technique, it is best to glue torn pieces of cardboard onto a canvas into a strategic arrangement that is to your liking. Afterward, you can paint people, scenery, nature, or whatever you'd like over the cardboard to give your visuals a worn and torn texture.



Concrete

Texture Profile: Gritty and Coarse

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZNddvs1Ims

Welcome to the realm of street art, where smearing concrete onto a canvas with a palette knife gets you very far in life.


Source: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/160440805444726745/

As seen on the streets, concrete is typically paired with spray paint, but it does not matter what type of paint you use so long as you can pull off your design. I would recommend using either oil or acrylic paint since their texture, after having dried, closely resembles that of concrete.


In regards to its application, you can either aim for a sculptured, irregular surface or a smooth, even surface. The irregular surface appears more organic which will resonate better with abstractions, while the even surface, when dry, provides more of an emphasis on the concrete's different shades of grey - best paired with a black and white color scheme (as shown in the artist's work above).

Gesso

Texture Profile: Sculptured, Rich, and Impasto

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZ2MsqSocE8

This is definitely one of my favorites! If you have absolutely no idea what gesso is, it is the stuff that raw canvases are coated with to prepare the canvas's surface for painting. Gesso consists of "animal glue binder (usually rabbit-skin glue), chalk, and white pigment". Traditional gesso is white but can be black or clear as well.

Source: https://kimmerbe.wordpress.com/tag/art/

For this technique, you want to stray away from applying gesso in thin and even layers since that is what is typically done. Instead, pour an appropriate amount of gesso onto a canvas and use a palette knife to smear the gesso around into sculptured irregularities. If it is too thick to smear, use a little bit of water to thin it out. Also, as another suggestion, you can use bubble wrap to imprint convex structures into the gesso while it is still wet for another form of texture! This technique works great for landscapes, waves, or abstractions in general. One thing to be cautious about with gesso is cracking. In order to minimize the chance of cracks appearing, make sure that you purchase quality gesso (check this site out: https://createlet.com/best-gesso) and apply only one layer of it (in this case).

Newspaper

Texture Profile: Antique, Shriveled, and Harmonious

Source: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/314548355198628613/

This should be no surprise. I bet you've seen this on your Instagram timeline quite often (if you follow any art accounts). In a tactile sense, the newspaper only provides a shriveled texture, though visually it can bring your artwork to the next level.

Source: http://carlataylorillustration.blogspot.com/2014/04/merging-newspaper-text-with-reportage.html

For one, newspaper can become an interesting backdrop for your art. Incorporating snippets of newspapers in your art will also allow audiences to comprehend your message more strongly (as shown in the second image), or you can just include it for the aesthetic. It is entirely up to you! I recommend that you use watercolors to paint over this to ensure that the words on the page are not completely sealed.

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