Acrylic painting continues to soar in popularity worldwide. With its vibrant colors and versatility, it's no wonder this painting medium has captured the hearts of artists, both beginners and seasoned.
But, what if we told you there was a way to elevate your acrylic creations even further?
Enter texture paints.
Texture paints are the unsung heroes of acrylic artistry. By adding depth, dimension, and a tactile quality that beckons viewers to touch the canvas, texture paints give a new meaning to the term "acrylic art".
From Visual to Tactile
If you wish to embark from the realm of the familiar and take your first few steps into tactile expression, then this article is for you. Discover the possibilities this painting medium offers, explore the different textures available, and unlock a new repertoire of touchable art techniques.
What are Texture Paints?
As you can guess from their name, texture paints are paints with an added tactile quality to them. Different brands call texture paints by different names. For instance, we at Nova Color offer our texture paints in the form of gels and texture pastes.
How does texture paint differ from regular acrylic paint? Well, regular acrylic paint is made up of pigments held together by an acrylic binder suspended in an emulsion.
Gel mediums are made up of the same binder used in regular acrylic paint but don’t contain any pigment, which essentially makes them a colorless paste. These gels can also be much thicker or thinner than regular acrylic paint, depending on the product.
Texture paste, on the other hand, consists of acrylic polymer, mineral powder, and other additives, which makes it denser than gel medium and dries rock hard.
Texture paints give your painting an added sense of dimension. They help you better express the tactile feel of a surface as well as give nuance to otherwise routine and flat surfaces.
What Do I Need?
If you’re excited to try textured paints for yourself, you’re going to need some materials. We suggest getting the following:
- Canvas - Pre-stretched canvas is perfect for painting with texture paints. However, you can also get away with canvas board, cardboard, and thick paper.
- Nova Color Gels and Texture Pastes - We offer various gels and texture pastes in our store. You can either try one of each or just a couple to start. We suggest choosing one gel medium and one texture paste.
- Acrylic Paints - Choose the color paints that you want. Nova Color offers 90+ vibrant artist-grade acrylic paints for you to mix and match to get the exact shade of color your art needs.
- Paintbrushes and Palette Knife - We suggest using a wide variety of paintbrushes to ensure you have what you need to achieve each technique. A palette knife lets you mix your paints and texture paints evenly and consistently.
- Paint Palette - A paint palette lets you line up all the colors and texture paints you need and gives you a good surface to mix on.
- Water, Soap, and Rag - You’ll need these to clean your brushes, palette, and palette knife. We suggest getting two containers for your water: one for wetting your brush, the other to clean them.
Seven Basic Texture Painting Techniques
Now that you know what texture paints are and you’ve got the supplies that you need, it’s time to try some basic texture painting techniques. These techniques aren’t arranged in any particular order and are suitable for artists of all skill levels.
Technique 1: Impasto Painting
In impasto painting, you use your palette knife to create textures on the canvas by applying thick layers of paint (this can also be done with a stiff brush). The word “impasto” means “mixture” or “dough” in Italian. This technique was practiced by such artists as Rembrandt van Rijn, Diego Velázquez, Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning.
While impasto has been traditionally done using oil paints for their thickness, modern works make use of acrylic paint mixed with acrylic gels (like Nova Color gel, matte gel, or super gel) to achieve similar effects – at a fraction of the time.
Since this technique creates raised textures, it gives you more control over how light plays on the surface, making it easier to represent particular textures. It also gives you a deeper sense of expression on the piece, as the viewer gets an idea of the speed and strength by which you apply the textures. As with all forms of texture painting, impasto also gives your art a more 3D feel, adding to its sense of depth and realism.
Technique 2: Mixed Media Art
As you can tell by the name, mixed media art involves the use of different forms of media to create truly unique pieces of art. Rather than just paint and canvas, think wood, plastic, paper, metal, cardboard, cloth, tin foil, buttons, gears, and other found objects you can stick to your canvas.
The earliest example of modern mixed media art is Pablo Picasso’s 1912 collage Still Life with Chair Caning. This piece created a pseudo-3D effect by using paper, cloth, paint, and rope as visual media.
Since this technique requires gluing various media to your canvas, you’re going to need some Nova Color texture paste. This heavy stiff paste not only lets you glue objects to your canvas but also lets you use it as a sculptural paste to produce a variety of effects, such as raised bumps, ridges, and patterns.
Mixed media art lets you think outside the box and create art that’s equally as out there. Learn to express your vision through the use of more than just paint and produce an art piece that’s more than just a painting.
Technique 3: Stencil and Texture Paste
Texture paste lets you create patterns on your canvas using a palette knife or stiff brush. This technique is great for producing organic patterns that capture the variable beauty of nature. If, however, you want to create the opposite effect (i.e. uniform and consistent patterns) then you’ll need to use a stencil.
Using stencils with texture paste lets you easily produce “embossed” patterns. Think brickwork, floral, lettering, and much more.
Apart from the texture paste, you’ll need stencils of varying thickness. The thicker the stencil, the more “3D” the effect. You can even combine different stencils to create a pure stencil painting.
For even more unique textures, use different stencils with other Nova Color texture paints. Need a sandy or rocky texture for a castle wall? Try Nova Color’s Coarse Lava Gel. Want something glossy to represent colored glass panes? Check out Nova Color’s Nova Gel.
Technique 4: Sgraffito
Sgraffito (“to scratch” in Italian) involves scratching off a layer of still-wet paint until you get to the layer underneath, which can be a dried layer of paint or the canvas itself. While this technique is usually done with the other end of your paintbrush or with a palette knife, other items can also be suitable as long as they can scratch away the wet paint without tearing through the canvas. Artists have used spoons, forks, plastic cards, and even their fingernails to great effect.
You can do this technique using just two colors: just paint a layer of one color then let it dry completely before painting the other color on and scratching it off. That said, why limit yourself to just two colors? This technique is perfectly doable with as many colors as you want!
So, where do texture paints come into play? Well, if you want to make really pronounced sgraffito lines, you can mix your paint with the various Nova Color gels or texture pastes. This thickens your paint and gives you deeper, more 3D-looking sgraffito lines.
Technique 5: Dot Art
The final technique makes full use of texture paint’s ability to make raised 3D-like layers. Just like sgraffito, dot art uses the other end of your brush but, instead of using it to scratch lines in wet paint, you dip it in some paint and then carefully apply it to your canvas, aiming to create a clean-edged dot.
While you can practice this technique with just acrylic paint, it really takes on a whole new life once you start using Nova color gels and texture pastes. You can either mix the paint with your gel/texture paste or create dots of gel/texture paste which you can then paint later.
This technique is great for pointillism art or for when you want to make lush mandalas.
Texture paints take your art from 2-dimensional visuals to the realm of tactile expression. With this whole new dimension before you, you’re limited only by your imagination and creativity. Try out these techniques today and see what captivating touchable art you can create.