Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Paint Texture

There's a variety of painting materials you can use to add impasto texture to your oil paintings. Generally, texture looks best in the areas of the painting that are brightly illuminated and light in value.

You can just add thicker oil paint, as I did on this detail of Waterfall City from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara. In this case the paint is applied with a palette knife.

If the paint comes out too runny from the tube, you can squeeze it out on blotter paper or paper towel to draw out the oil. Thick paint takes weeks to dry, so a drop of cobalt drier mixed into the white will make it dry in a day or two. Just use a drop, because too much cobalt drier can affect the color of the mixtures.

In some previous posts noted below, I covered "prextexturing," where you add the texture first before final painting and then paint relatively thinly over that base texture, and glaze into the pits.

But what are your choices for this pretexturing? Here's a test with an assortment of materials. At the top is acrylic matte medium, modeling paste, and gesso, mixed together in various combinations. Acrylic paint is OK to use in the priming stage, before beginning the oil layers, but never add it over the oil, or there might be adhesion problems.

In the second row of test swatches I experimented with Wingel and Oleopasto, two Winsor and Newton products that are designed for quick drying impastos. In both cases I let the textures dry and glazed over the top. The white streaks on the test swatches are where I rubbed off the glazing layer, leaving some of it in the small pits.
Previous GurneyJourney posts on the topic of pretexturing:
Rembrandt Effect, link
Pretexturing, link


Charley Parker said...

Dorlands Wax Medium

Thickens, with an inherently smooth, buttery texture, can produce textures from handling or the addition of textural materials (sand, etc.)

Sean U. said...

I don't know if this would work with oils, as I don't often use them and tend to work with acrylics, but I use to pretexture with tissue paper or newspaper. I would glue it onto the surface (usually illustration board) with an acrylic matte medium. Then I would cover it with a wash of the complimentary color of the paintings over all color scheme.

You can make it as textured or as subtle as you like and its fun to work with. its kind of a pain to transfer your drawing onto but most textured surfaces are I guess.

James Gurney said...

Charley, thanks for the tip on that wax medium.

Sean, good idea, and there's no reason you couldn't glue down tissue paper (or cotton bedsheet) to a heavy illustration board support in the priming stages for an oil painting (as long as the oils went on after).

I think most people know that you can also glue down a drawing or a photocopy using matte medium painted on all surfaces of the paper and board, squeegeeing out the bubbles for a tight bond. This is a great method for doing quick color experiments.

Erik Bongers said...

The rubbed-of paint gives an impression of snow covered mountain tops seen from high above.
Must remember that.

Thanks for the acrylics tip Sean!

Shelley said...

I wanted to experiment lately with texture in my oil paintings. I've read about Oleopasto. I cannot seem to find it in my local Hobby Lobby store by my house. Any ideas as to what I can buy at Hobby Lobby to experiment with?

Your blog is very helpful. Thank you google!

James Gurney said...

Shelley, I think that our blog readers all have excellent ideas for texture, and I hope that Hobby Lobby has some of the materials suggested for you to try out. We don't have Hobby Lobby here in upstate NY, so I can't really suggest anything for you. Maybe some of our readers have Hobby Lobby in their areas?
Thanks for the compliments on Jim's blog,