Texture refers to how something feels, including its appearance and consistency. For example, glass, wood, rock, and sand have different textures, while words describing texture include rough, smooth, soft, and glossy.

Texture in art concerns the surface quality of a piece of work. In three-dimensional artwork, the term refers to how the piece feels when touched. In paintings and other two-dimensional artwork, texture invokes the visual ‘feeling’ the piece gives off.

Artists and designers can influence the surface quality of a piece of work using authentic materials or techniques that imply different textures. The texture is one of the seven building blocks of art, making it a fundamental element of every artist’s work.

Why do artists use texture?

Artists use texture to:

  • Create contrast within a piece of art
  • Help a composition look more balanced
  • Make a focal point within their work of art that captures the attention
  • Support stylistic choices
  • Add depth to the artwork

What are the different types of textures in art?

Actual texture

Actual texture refers to the tactile qualities of a material or piece of art. It can only be experienced in real life, as the materials used by the artist give a piece its actual texture. Artists can alter the surface of their materials with techniques like sanding and polishing or roughing materials up.

Imagine the actual texture of the pebbles below:

Implied (or visual) Texture

Implied (or visual) texture concerns the textural appearance of a two-dimensional piece of art. Artists can use different methods to make their art appear soft, silky, rough, or other textures when this may not be true.

Things like brushstroke lines, impasto painting techniques (laying on paint thickly so that it stands out), and even the adjustment of light and angle in photography all influence a piece’s textural appearance. Portrait painting often employs textural techniques to make skin appear smooth or wrinkly. In addition, artists use implied texture to create different effects and elicit responses from viewers.

Claude Monet often painted scenes several times. The examples below demonstrate different textural techniques:

Functional texture

The available texture is more apparent in the design. For example, textiles in clothing items are chosen for comfort, warmth, or durability.

Why is texture in art essential?

Texture has a significant influence on the feelings that a piece of art evokes. A rose painted on plain white paper is just a rose. When a rose is carved onto splintering wood, it becomes entirely different. While the meaning each person takes from the piece of art may differ, the contrast in symbolism generates more ideas and emotions.

Art is about making people think. It disrupts the humdrum images and symbols of everyday life in a way that liberates them from their surface meaning to create new interpretations. We are tactile beings, and texture is one of the primary ways we experience the world. Employing textural techniques in art opens up an infinite amount of possibilities to explore in artwork and will engage our sense of touch to make the art more immersive.

How to experiment with texture in art

One way to create different textures and textural effects is to experiment with materials. Things like applying the paint more thickly and using other tools, such as sponges, spatulas, airbrushes, and even your hands, are all excellent techniques.

Painting on different surfaces is fun, as painting on fabric, wood, or stone will create other effects. In addition, you can add additional materials to your work, like sand, plastic, or rubber.

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