Category Archives: Painting Texture

Creating and using texture in your paintings.

Using Masking Tape for Textured Patterns

Masking tape is a really useful tool in painting I find, whether you just create patterns and paint over it, mask off edges of the painting to frame it or maybe use texture.

In the past I have created a few paintings that have had a specific part of the painting that has raised texture using masking tape, maybe just to emphasise a feature in the painting.  I have also used this method just to add some extra shapes to an abstract painting.

So I have created a quick video to show how I use this technique – in this case I am creating a small painting with a raised, textured beach hut. In this case, instead of using my standard mixture of stucco and PVA I have used ready mixed plaster – which is something that is easily available in most DIY/hardware shops – with craft PVA.

To make the pattern, stick down the masking tape where you want the beach hut (or whatever you are drawing) and mark up the pattern on it.

Then cut out the pattern using a craft knife. You can press reasonably hard (as hard as you need to to cut the tape) and you should not cut the canvas.

Peel the tape off inside the pattern and spread the texture over this area. you can then remove the remaining masking tape to reveal the beach hut and scrape some lines in it using a kebab stick or whatever you have to hand.

Here is the video:

Another example of using this technique with masking tape is a painting I did with a seagull which I sold a few years ago.

Raised textured seagull painting
Raised textured seagull painting

Another example of using masking tape is to create a border around the painting or just to divide up some aspects of the painting as per below:

A textured painting with masking tape used to create a surround.
Masking tape used to divide the painting into sections.

10 Things You Can Add to Texture

This month I have had my studio open as part of the local open studios event and during that time I have been doing some demonstrations on some textured canvases.

As part of these demonstrations I have been including some additional elements to the texture to demonstrate different techniques.

10 Things You Can Add to Texture

So as well as just using texture on its own, you can also add things to the texture to make different patterns on the canvas or board  and I thought I would share some of my ideas here.

So here are 10 things that you can add to your texture mix to give you some different effects:

1.String –  I generally use the cotton type string rather than nylon as it soaks into the texture and you can seal it with PVA really easily.  It’s very versatile so you can either coil it round or just use straight strips – in fact you can make whatever patterns you like by sticking it into the texture  or even just sticking it on the painting with PVA.

2. Sand –  sand is really good to create a more grainy texture although it might be difficult to get hold of if you don’t live somewhere near the sea!  Luckily I’m about 10 miles from the sea so I can grab a small bag whenever I need it.  You can either mix some into the texture before applying it or sprinkle it on top of the texture.

This painting incorporates some sand and string in the texture

This painting incorporates some sand and string in the texture

3. Sawdust –  this is another really great one to provide some additional bulk to your texture.  Maybe you know someone who is having work done on their house and can save some for you.

4. Rice –  you can use on cooked rice in your texture. Just make sure it is fully coated with either PVA or a coat of paint  once you have put it on the canvas.  As long as it is sealed it will last a long time.  You can either mix it in with the texture or add it afterwards.

5. Chick peas –  just like rice, use them uncooked and seal them up and they will provide some good interest in the painting.

6. Pasta – you  can also use quite big pieces of pasta  but obviously the bigger they are the more delicate the painting will be and subject to breakage.  Stick the pasta on with the texture and once again seal the pasta when it is on the painting.  Myself and another artist created a triptych painting using pasta for a hotel restaurant:

Painting for a restaurant using pasta shells

Painting for a restaurant using pasta shells

7. Corrugated card –  stick the card down onto the texture which should be quite flat and then make sure that all of the edges are stuck down using PVA.

8. Tissue –  rip up strips of single thickness tissue and place these on top of the texture  while it is still wet.  Pat it down to make sure it is absorbed into the texture.  It is quite a good wrinkled effect when it is dry.

9. Crushed shells –  you can often buy pots of these in craft shops and they work well added to the texture in a similar manner to sand or sawdust.

10. Tile spacers –  there are lots of things that you can get from a DIY store that you can use in your texture and tile spacers is just one suggestion.  I’ve been meaning to try this for ages! But one thing I have used is some nails in a painting that I did a while ago  so really anything goes 🙂

A textured painting including nails.

A textured painting including nails.

I’m sure there are a lot more things that you can add to your texture so feel free if you want to share any ideas that you have or things that you have used in the past.

Textured Abstract Painting

OK so I was looking for a picture of a certain painting today and I came across another photograph of an old painting I did a couple of years ago that was one of my favourites, so I thought I would share it (especially after the last post was about one that I wasn’t really that keen on!). I did this textured abstract painting a couple of years ago and it sold pretty quickly after I got a lot of good feedback from friends and family. It was quite a large textured painting on a box canvas:

Untitled29I think if you click on it you should be able to get a much bigger image to see all the texture in the painting.

I used my usual mixture of texture, details of which you can find on this site and used a cake slice to apply it along with a bunch of other tools that I had lying around to make patterns in the texture and I think the proportions of the arrangement of the texture have worked in this case (I try and use the golden ratio to position the various marks and changes in colour and texture and have a great belief that this really works to make the painting properly balanced). I’m sure a lot of you have already studied this but if you haven’t then I would definitely recommend looking into this as it particularly works in abstracts I think.

Another thing I used in this painting was the gold and silver powder that I had picked up in Dubai – you need such a small amount of it that I have enough to last a lifetime! (If you are in the UK and want some to experiment with then I have a few small pots for sale for £5 so comment on this post and I will email you with details if you are interested).

One thing I would recommend to do, particularly if you are trying to recreate a particular style of painting (and you won’t find many artists recommending this!), is to try and copy someone else’s work. I would emphasise not to do this to aim to sell the painting at the end, but just do it as an experiment to see if you can recreate what they have done. Each time I have tried this, I have learned something new about adding either paint or texture when trying to mimic the results that the artist has created in their painting. You can then learn more techniques that you can use in your own work.



Tissue Paper for Texture

If you want a quick and easy way to add texture to your paintings then you can use tissue (the type you blow your nose on!) or tissue paper. ideally you would use PVA to apply the tissue to the canvas but if you don’t have any then you can just use acrylic paint. Either put the tissue on top of the wet paint or add the tissue to the paint and apply it to the canvas – you could also add a little water if it is a bit thick with the tissue in.

Just leave it to dry (ideally overnight) and you have a good base to paint over. You can build up big layers of the tissue if you want to have a really heavy texture under your painting.

Great Texture Additive!

So I had some lessons a number of year ago from an abstract artist who also used a lot of texture in his paintings. I was already working as an abstract artist at that point in time but I always think that you can learn plenty of new tips and tricks from other artists on how they create their texture and their paintings. I definitely learnt things from this guy.

One tip he had was to use sawdust to add texture to his paintings. You can use this by adding it to gesso or to PVA or add it tot he texture mix that I have detailed in this website. You may need to add a bit of extra PVA as the sawdust will thicken it up like porridge though!

I think the reason I haven’t used it up until now is that I haven’t really had it easily to hand, whereas the guy that told me about it knew a carpenter. However, I came back to my house a few weeks ago (which I am renovating) and there was a massive pile of sawdust in the middle of the lounge where the builders had been working. I immediately thought ‘don’t throw that away!’ and scooped it all up into a plastic bag. Luckily I think there will be enough to last quite a while.

This big bag of sawdust I collected should last me a while!
This big bag of sawdust I collected should last me a while!

Thinking about it I reckon I could have gone to the local DIY store where they cut wood and have maybe got a bag from them so don’t put it off like me and give it a go!

Decorator’s Caulk for Paintings

A few years ago I picked up some tubes of squeezable decorators caulk to try out on creating some shapes and lines on some paintings. They turned out quite well and it is really easy to use.

It is quite a flexible substance so it works well on canvas and it is easy to apply. Once it is dry you can paint it (I think I pretty much used only acrylic paint at that time but I expect if you applied a coat of acrylic and then used oil on top it would work perfectly well too) and with the raised surface it is easy to apply something like gold to the caulked bits.

Here are an example of a painting that I sold using decorator’s caulk:


You can use the caulk to make lines or to create outlines of places where you maybe want to put in paint of a different colour. In fact you could create an enclosed area where you could pour in paint and allow it to mix itself.

As I have been recently renovating my house I now have a few tubes of caulk left over and figure I might as well make use of them!

Using Tile Adhesive for Texture

So someone recently asked me if you could use tile adhesive in a texture mix instead of the stucco that I usually use. Well I had to say that I did not know if tile adhesive would work as a painting base as I had never tried it. I had tried plenty of powder based and ready mixed plaster type compounds but not the tile adhesive as I think it might be a bit ‘gooey’! Continue reading Using Tile Adhesive for Texture

Really Thick Painting Texture

Check out the section on this website about how to create really thick painting texture – you can create great affects by using a kind of plaster base and mixing it with a plastic adhesive such as PVA, to give it some elasticity. There are a few options that you can use for the plaster base but the best one I have found is stucco.

Whether you can find stucco in your part of the world is a big question. I have struggled to find it, particularly in the UK, and have had to bring it with me when travelling but I am sure there must be better ways of getting hold of it. I have experimented with things like artex and plaster mix, adding water and PVA to plaster powder, but the smoothest mixture that I have found is made with stucco. It also has some great cracking qualities if you put it on the canvas thickly enough and you can add watered down paint into the cracks to give an ‘aged’ kind of look.

You can also add other items to your texture mix like maybe rice or sand to make it thicker but you just need to remember that the thicker the texture is, the heavier the canvas and the painting is going to be so it will need much heavier hanging brackets and may be difficult to carry around if you are taking paintings to exhibitions etc.

If you find any extra ingredients that make good thick texture, or if you find a place to buy stucco in the UK then please feel free to comment here. I will post some pictures of some thick texture I have used in the past.

PVA Quality

So I was at an exhibition at the weekend and I was warned by a fellow artist about the quality of some PVA and that it can deteriorate over time. I think though that she was using it neat and the risk was with it yellowing over time but as I use it mixed with stucco I think the risk of it ruining anything is very low. I have used it for over 5 years and have not experienced any problems with it. However, you do pretty much get what you pay for with PVA so I would advise going with a good quality brand.