Rembrandt developed the technique of glazing over dried impasto for a basrelief effect, wiping the wet glaze off the high spots and allowing it to remain in the nooks and crannies for a heightened three-dimensional effect. Used in this manner, impasto can actually enhance the illusion of the third dimension.
Gerome (below) insisted on a perfectly smooth surface to the painting, and forbade his students to use impasto anywhere.
My first instructor, who happened to be my mother, told me it makes a painting more interesting to the viewer when he or she can detect some of the artist's brushwork from up close. I still adhere to that, to a greater or lesser degree depending on what I feel is most appropriate for the picture in question, but I prefer to only leave a few, in strategic places, rather than leave them everywhere indiscriminately. My usual practice is to have them undetectable from normal viewing distance, and only become barely visible from a few inches away. In my alla prima style, which I seldom employ these days, I may let them show a bit more noticably in areas where they serve a purpose, as accents. This was generally the practice of most of the Old Masters.
I believe it is best for painters to have command of all possible visual effects, as this opens up the widest range of possibilities, and best facilitates the creation of whatever illusion is desired.' ... Virgil Elliott
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