Mohamed  Hirji

Fine Art

Twitter @mkhirji

The Concept Of Texture

May 12, 2018

Texture is a visual phenomenon. It may be physical or implied. When one applies thick gobs of paint on a smooth surface, one will be able to feel the physical texture. Vincent Van Gough was a master at this.This unfortunately is possible only in acrylic and oil paints.  For watercolours the texture is implied. The illusion of texture created by masterful use of colour and values.  John Singer Sargent was well known for this form of texture particularly in his treatment of fabrics.

My oil painting below, titled “Evening Out”  shows the physical or tactile texture of thick oil paint particularly around the two individuals in the foreground and the yellow lamps on the face of the building. You may need to magnify the images to appreciate the textures.

Evening Out Oil Painting . Showing Tactile Texture

An acrylic painting, Canale Veneziano showing some wonderful textures on the brick walls of the old buildings.

Canale Veneziano, An Acrylic Painting With Texture On Old Brick  Buildings

Apart from texture on the objects themselves, using special media, one can even even create physical textures on the substrate or the surface of the painting tiself. An example is the painting “Casa Antico.” - The ancient house - An acrylic painting where crackling paste on the surface of the canvas has been used to provide an aged, distressed look to the entire painting..

Casa Antico, An Acrylic  Painting On Crackle Paste.

As mentioned, this physical texture is only possible in oil and acrylic paints. In pastel or watercolour paintings, one has to resort to implied or illusion of texture. This is achieved by careful use of values and colour. A watercolour painting of mine titled “Winter Wonder” shown below, conveys this illusion on the bark of the closest tree trunk.

Watercolour Painting, Texture Of Bark Simulated On The Closest Tree Trunk .

The whole concept of texture is mired in controversy. There are two schools of thought. 

The first group believes that textures in paintings should get bolder in the foreground to bring it further forward and the background should be smooth in order for it to recede into the distance. This would provide a three dimensional illusion to the two dimensional image. 

The other group believes that the texture should be reserved to the objects at the focal spot, this theory is popularized by a well known American artist, Jay  Moore in his workshop DVD “Painting the Way the Eye Sees”. I am partial to the latter opinion although I respect the former as well, so I use the technique which best suits my paintings.

Hope you are now experts at textures. When you look at your next textural painting, try to make an educated guess as to which school of texture  the artist adheres to. If you like this blog, please forward this to your family and friends and contacts on the social media.

Thank you for following.

Mohamed Hirji