Make Your Own Texture

If you can make your own texture then this is one of the key things that abstract artists in particular want to do to get a thick base on which to work. None of the readymade textures cut it for me to be thick enough so that is why I came up with my own recipe for painting texture.

It can be quite cost effective to make your own texture for use in your paintings or other artwork. If you are going to do this then often you will need to buy the products in large quantities and so this is perhaps for you if you plan on doing a lot of painting and have done quite a bit of texture painting before. However, don’t let this put you off making your own texture as it is always good to experiment with new things in art so a bit of trial and error is always good!

I have been making my own texture for a number of years and in that time have used quite a few different ingredients. However there are a few key things that you need to include to make your own texture:

A thick product for the base that provides the substance to your texture mix. The type of material that you need for this is something like stucco, plaster powder or ready mixed plaster or something such as artex.

Add to this one essential ingredient to make the texture paste flexible enough to add to a canvas and not crack off. The most popular thing to use for this is PVA. In different parts of the world PVA comes in different forms but hopefully you can get hold of some where you are. The essential part of the PVA is the V – vinyl, which gives the PVA flexibility. So you can buy some PVA Craft Glue or some industrial PVA which is often available from hardware or DIY stores.

If you want your texture to have some colour then you can also add paint to it, this can be useful if you want to use it for a base but the colour will be changed by the white of the texture.

So, here are a few recipes for you to make your own texture:

  1. Mix gesso, plaster powder and PVA in relative quantities of 1:2:1
  2. Mix stucco with PVA in the mix of 3:1 (or try different mixtures to get different results from 2:1 to 5:1)
  3. Ready-mixed plaster and PVA – similar to stucco in quantity

Basically you can try different options and once you have your mixture you can also add other things to it e.g. sand to get different effects.

32 comments

  1. Harry says:

    Have you ever tried plaster of of Paris as texture past
    I have found your info very useful

    • admin says:

      Hi Harry, yes, plaster of paris is a great idea as a texture additive. I have also used it to make small moulds of things to then embed in the texture on the canvas :-)

  2. edwrd says:

    HArry, what’s the oldest piece you have done using this material?

    Do you know if it cracks over time?

    Thanks for your formulae, appreciate it.

    Edward

    • admin says:

      Hi Edward, I have used this kind of texture for over 5 years. It only cracks when it actually dries after you have put it on the canvas – often I try and make it crack for effect. If you leave it for 24 hours to totally dry then it shouldn’t crack at any time afterwards.

  3. Matt says:

    If I have some of this mixture left over, if I seal it up in an airtight container will it keep or do I need to just toss it? Also do you have any recommendations on tools to spread the mixture … palette knife is the obvious choice, but maybe you have used some other tools with success.

    Thanks
    Matt

    • admin says:

      Hi Matt, yes if you make up extra and keep it in an airtight container it will be fine. I have left some like this for weeks or months at a time and generally if it is really airtight it will still be perfectly usable – most of the time I use it within a few days anyway. My favourite tool to spread this is a cake slice which allows you to get good control over how it goes on.

  4. Peter says:

    Thanks for the texture recipe, the shop bought texture mediums are far too expensive, i shall give this a whirl. Stucco deosnt seem to be available in the UK, but i will try plaster powder and PVA

  5. loida says:

    When you refer to stucco and the 3:1 proportion of Stucco to PVA…are you talking about pre-mixed Stucco or powdered Stucco? Sorry, I just don’t have any previous knowledge about Stucco and need help finding it at the store. Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Hi Ioida, I am using ready mixed stucco as this seems to be a really good smooth paste that may be difficult to get when mixing it yourself! However, if you are used to mixing your own then no doubt you can add the ova to that too once you have mixed it.

      Thanks Jenirose, I’ve not heard of whiting powder so I’ll have to check that out if I can find it. Always useful to hear other people’s methods and glad I can be of help!

  6. Jenirose says:

    Fantastic blog and thank you. I’ve been trying to remember how to make my own Gesso and could only recall whiting powder, but not the rest, nor could I remember the proportions, so the whiting powder has been sitting waiting for a few years :)
    Great information really appreciate your sharing it with us.

  7. kiran dobhal says:

    Thanks for sharing such knowledge with us….really appericiate you for the information you provided here..m just a beginner after reading at your website i also want to try it .. will revert again with experience after finishing my painting..

  8. Loida says:

    I’ve been experimenting with trying to make my own modeling paste using plaster of paris and some latex paint…but I’ve wasted alot of canvases because once it dries, although is looks sturdy, if I try to pick away pieces of the texture, it will chip off. I sell my art, so I can’t have that happening to the people who recieve it or possibly risk the texture chipping off during shipping. With the pva and plaster powder, will it be super strong to where you can’t pick it off and make it crumble off the canvas even with a lot of pressure? Also, where can I buy alot of pva glue cheap? I looked at the home improvement stores and they don’t seem to have any , maybe its under a different name? They had pva primer. Is that the same thing?

    Thanks alot ,
    Loida

    • admin says:

      Hi Loida, yes I think plaster of paris is maybe a bit light and brittle although I have seen people use it on canvases so maybe they also add something to it. The mixture I use stays on very well. I have actually tried to take it off in the past and it is quite difficult to get off. Also I have shipped paintings and who knows what happens to them in the plane but the texture stays on ok! I think the only way it will come off is if it is poked really hard from the back (I haven’t tried it…). Yes a DIY store is the best place to get the PVA. I am pretty sure that the PVA primer has the same effect and is pretty much the same thing. I get my PVA from a DIY store.

  9. Loida says:

    Hello,

    So I foun some stucco at my diy store: this is a link. It is called Stucco Patch? Is this the same thing you are using?
    http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay?partNumber=132898-68-60590&langId=-1&storeId=10151&productId=3011843&catalogId=10051&cmRelshp=req&rel=nofollow&cId=PDIO1 I’m so confused about this. :(

    • admin says:

      Loida, it looks like either of those would be OK but it is difficult to tell without seeing the actual product. Most of this is a trial and error situation so I would give one of them a go and see if it works. The stucco I use is a smooth ready mixed product but each country seems to have its own kind of building materials. From the descriptions both of those sound like a smooth kind of plaster mix so might well be a good thing to use.

  10. Loida says:

    Ok, well, I just ruined another canvas last night :( It chipped off again. It is strange, but whenever I ask the home improvement store people if they carry pva, they don’t know what I am talking about. You’d think they would know. So I’m not looking for pva glue? I’m looking for pva? Is that correct? Sorry to be so annoying, but I am desperate here! lol..Thanks so much for your speedy replies and your help. You can feel free to erase any of these messages if they are taking up too much space on your site. Thanks!

    • admin says:

      Loida, given a choice between what would be called PVA Primer and PVA glue/adhesive I would go for the glue but both of them seem to work OK. It is the vinyl content that is key really as that gives the elasticity to the stucco/plaster which can be a bit solid. A lot of it is about experimentation though so I would test them out. Get some cheap canvases and try them out there first. With the mixture I have it is quite hard to break it off so if it is coming off easily I would add more PVA to the mix.

  11. Loida says:

    Thanks! I finally just ordered some PVA from the UK online. Hopefully it works better than the pva primer. The thing about when I add more pva or paint to the stucco, then it becomes so soft that it is hard to hold the textures. But I will keep experimenting that is for sure..till I find the right mix.

    Thanks again!

  12. Harold Bronswinkel (live in ARUBA HAVE YOU BEEN HERE ) ?? says:

    loida is you, loida i am from all the way aruba , and i am a painter ,i order my modeling paste from holland very exspensive , and i got uou with your recipes for modeling paste and gesso. can i use wall or celling compound??? Is that what you call stucco?? I do not know dry stuco !! I dont uderstand 1:2:1 please more clear i know my inglish is not so good !!please i do not want to wait so long because i give classes ! Thank you so much do have a cel: phone????? with all my respect !

    • admin says:

      Hi, yes modelling paste is very expensive! Unfortunately stucco is hard to get hold of but if you go to a hardware store you can likely get some kind of plaster. If you use that with PVA then you should be good. I don’t know what wall or ceiling compound is but it sounds like it might be worth a try if it is plaster based. it is mostly about experimenting with different things until you find something you can get hold of locally and that works well.

  13. habib says:

    Hi, i am looking U from Iran, so, I am wondering to know before to use the texture on canvas there is something like acrylic primer is used, as i heard . i am asking what is it that for?

    • admin says:

      Hi habib, yes I would say you should prime the canvas first. I always use pre-primed canvas so there is no need but if you don’t then I would definitely prime as you would normally.

  14. Will says:

    I too am new to all this textured artwork stuff! I’ve tried a mix of 1 part Plaster of Paris (dissolve in hot water 1st) then 1 part PVA glue then approx 2 parts acrylic paint. Seems to work well – I only did it a couple of days ago, but no signs of cracking or falling off so far…
    One question though – what to seal the ‘painting’ with once its dry? I’ve tried a spray on sealer/varnish, but because of the plaster of paris, it just soaks in….

    • admin says:

      Hi Will, I know a few people who have used plaster of Paris. I think if you paint over the texture with acrylic paint then that should seal it before varnishing. Or you could gesso the texture before painting it else put PVA over the top which should seal it.

  15. Safa says:

    Hey! I live in Pakistan so I dont know what they call stucco and PVA glue here. I tried to find it but no one knows what I’m talking about. Could you suggest some alternatives for these things for the recipe you provided for texture. I would really appreciate your help. Thankyou!

    • admin says:

      Hi Safa, there isn’t really an alternative for PVA glue but you really should be able to get it in craft shops or builders merchants. You are looking for a white glue that has the word ‘vinyl’ in somewhere in the description. As for the stucco, that can be difficult to find so you needs a smooth ready mixed plaster which you should be able to get from a builders merchants or diy store. Good luck.

      • Safa says:

        I used Dafanch white glue instead of PVA mixed with plaster. And it worked perfectly fine. Thanks for the idea, my paintings have improved a lot!

  16. Fthalo says:

    Hola. Perdonar que escriba en español, pero no se inglés. El acetato de polivinilo PVA, es la base de la cola blanca, por tanto, se puede utilizar tanto un producto como lo otro. Referente a la carga que se le pone, para dar textura, todos los productos expuestos son derivados del yeso. Pueden ser mas o menos puros, pero si se utilizan en texturas pesadas, carecen de importancia.
    Un producto que puede utilizarse de carga y que le da flexibilidad, mezclado con el PVA es el material para juntas que se emplea en las uniones de placas de yeso/carton.
    Vuelvo a pedir disculpas por escribir en español.
    Saludos.
    Fthalo.

  17. Fthalo says:

    Perdón. Una cosa muy importante en todos los casos, es humedecer el soporte y procurar pintarlo con PVA disuelto en agua, seguidamente, sin dejarlo secar poner la textura encima.
    Esto lleva a que penetre el PVA en el tejido, haciendo buen anclaje. Al poner la textura estando húmeda todavía la pintura de PVA, existe continuidad con la textura, dando todo el conjunto un buen anclaje.
    De todas formas, si la deformación del lienzo es de importancia puede quebrarse algo la textura.
    Lo ideal, si se va a utilizar derivados del yeso, es utilizar soportes rígidos, como la madera, paredes, etc.
    Saludos.
    Fthalo.

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