Texture

Texlurc, sinco it is a matter of surface, is more, closely related to character than it is to form.[ Light delineates texture as it does form, and its reflection on a surface creates color. Without light there is no color.

While color can always be applied in smooth flat tones on the canvas, the rendering of different textures requires a variety of brushes and techniques. However, texture can often be suggested rather than copied in a detailed manner. If we follow the effect of a texlurc in light and color we can come very close to rendering it, even on a smooth canvas. Thus texture in painting does not necessarily mean that the surface has to be built up with layers of paint. At times, however, under-surfacc painting can greatly enhance certain tex-tural cffccts. Heavy underpainting usually provides so-called "accidentals" which are textural rather than flat in treatment, and which otherwise might have to be done very painstakingly with small brushes to no belter or less good effect. The texture of the canvas itself may be transposed to the painting and fairly well controlled by the way the paint is applied. In the parls of a rough canvas where we want a smooth texture, as in the sky, we simply fill in the grain of the canvas surface with thinner paint. Thicker, drier pigment is used for heavy textural effects such as might be needed for bushes or woodland foliage, and the paint must be allowed to dry between layers of color.

Some of the most interesting textures in painting can be achieved by using a palette knife, dragging the knife over the surface and letting the paint cling to the high spots.

Some artists l'ecl that if a palette knife is used at all, the whole picture should be done with a knife, for the sake of consistency in the treatment, and, equally, that if a brush is used the painting should be all with a brush. The idea is reasonable, but again it seems to me that it placcs unnecessary limitations on individual creativeness. There are certainly great contrasts of texture in nature, and I do not see why we may not try to achieve this quality by any means possible.

I have known artists to put sand in the priming medium while repriming old canvases. The object of this was to vary the grain of the canvas, and the beautiful effect in the final work was astonishing.

All sorts of textures may be prepared on the painting surface. They may be built up by patting the underpainting medium onto the canvas with a two- or three inch housepainler's brush, lifting the brush, and allowing the textures created by the suction of the brush to stay and dry that way. Should texture not be wanted in some areas, the paint can be sanded down or scraped away with a sharp knife. Modern artists often paint several layers of color on the canvas ground, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next, and then they scrape or sand the surface so that many subtle colors show through. Frequently the resulting effect suggests an abstract composition that can be developed into an interesting design.

Paysage du Midi by André Derain, bignou gallery, new york city. Some of the most interesting textures in painting can be achieved by using a palette knife, dragging the knife over the surface and letting the paint cling to the high spots

Les Mouettes by Henri Matisse, lewisohn collection

Henri Matisse Juan Gris Fruit Drawings

Fruit Dish, Glass and Newspaper by Juan Gris, the museum of modern art, new york city

Texture in painting docs not necessarily mean that the surface has to be built up with layers of paint ... so the ground cannot show through

Texture in painting is very much a matter of sonal taste. In this, as in every other aspect, individual artist must be prepared to exponent. Since each applies paint in his own par-ular way, so will his method of building up xture vary.

Besides underpainting, the use of different s of brushes plays an important part in re-ucing the smooth and rough textures found nature. The over-all effect produced by sable hes is quite different from that of bristle shes, and that of round brushes from that of at or square ones. Some artists paint with the at of the brush, often brushing sideways rather an off the tip to increase the area covered at le time. Others retain the blocky squareness left y the square brush stroke. Experiments with any textures of paint and with all types of texture brushes held at all possible angles and with different manipulation of wrist and arm reveal the almost limitless textural effects that can be achieved with paint or canvas.

When you find yourself, your technical approach becomes more or less a habit. This can be good, and it also can be bad. It is good in that it helps to identify your work as you become known. It is definitely bad in that painting habits too deeply ingrained can become monotonous and be difficult to change when a fresh approach is needed. One remedy lies in constant experiment and another in frequent if only temporary '' changes of locale, where new places and people and collections of art can provide new inspiration and a fresh point of view. This in turn may give birth to interesting new techniques and uses of color.

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