What is Texture?
Texture is the tactile quality of the surface of an object.
Artists create texture to help viewers understand what it might feel like to touch objects, as well as to convey what materials different objects are made from. For example, if an artist paints an image of a clock, the viewer can imagine what it would feel like to touch it.
Here we can see artist Salvador Dali playing with ideas of texture with his melting clocks in Persistence of Memory. What might it feel like to touch those clocks in real life?
Still-life artist Claara Peeters replicates the textures we might experience in everyday life in the painting Still Life with Cheeses, Artichoke, and Cherries.
Actual texture is something viewers can reach out and touch. It’s how a sculptural work might feel to touch, like the crocheted leaves of artist Susanna Bauer.
Impasto is an actual texture. It is a thick layered application of paint which leaves a bumpy surface. Van Gogh’s paintings use impasto, which we can observe in his famous piece Starry Night.
Creating Textures through Drawing
There are assorted drawing techniques artists use to convey different textures in their artwork. We see them most often practiced in value charts such as this one:
Each section uses different kinds of marks, which not only help convey value (how light or dark something is), but also it’s texture.
To convey texture with pencils and markers.
- Pencil or Markers
- Paper bags
- Random objects with assorted textures
Start with a group brainstorm to describe as many textures as possible. Using markers or pencil have each student try making as many different textures on their paper as they can imagine.
Choose three to five objects with varying textures and place them inside the paper bags. Give each student a bag. Without looking inside the bag, instruct them to place their hands inside and feel the object inside.
Then ask them to try and draw what they feel.
What marks can they use to convey how it felt to touch the hidden object?
Have students use paint on canvas and create abstracted works that reflect the perceived textures. Materials needed include: acrylic or tempura paint, paint brushes, canvas, water
Students learn to convey texture with different art materials and learn the difference between perceived and actual textures.