Basic Art Element — Texture

Anything that has a surface has some type of texture. Texture is the way a surface looks and feels. It is experienced in two ways — with touch (tactile) and with our eyes (visually). Fine artists often use texture in the following ways to:

    • create a focal point
    • add interest
    • provide contrast
    • visually balance their compositions

Texture is essential in paintings to make objects appear to be real. Even in abstract paintings texture can serve to enhance the viewers experience by suggesting certain feelings or mood regarding the artwork. Texture can also serve to organize and unify various areas of a composition.

Texture can either add to or take away from the overall effect of the composition. When it is used haphazardly or in the wrong way, it can confuse or clutter the painting. However, when used with deliberate skill, texture will bring a composition together creating the illusion of realism and adding unity.

The Two Types of Texture — Tactile and Visual

Tactile texture is the real thing. It is the actual way a surface feels when it is felt or touched, such as rough, smooth, soft, hard, silky, slimy, sticky, etc. 3-D art such as sculpture and architectural structures are tactile in nature because they can be felt. An example of real texture would be wood, sandpaper, canvas, rocks, glass, granite, metal, etc.

Even the brush strokes used in a painting can create a textured surface that can be felt and seen. The building up of paint on the surface of a canvas or board, so that it creates actual texture, is called impasto. Painters may choose to apply their paints thickly or thinly depending on overall effect that is wished to be achieved.

Visual texture is not real texture. All textures you observe in photographs are visual textures. No matter how rough objects may seem to appear in a photograph, the surface of the photograph is always going to be smooth and flat to the touch.

Artists can create the illusion of texture in their paintings by simulation or implying it through the use of various art elements such as line, shading and color. It is created by repeating lines, dot or other shapes to create a pattern. Varying the size, density, and orientation of these marks will produce other desired effects as well.

Common Textures

Although there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of different types of texture, nonetheless, all texture will fall under two broad categories — rough and smooth. For example:

Rough Smooth
Course Fine
Bumpy Slick
Dry Wet
Flat Wrinkled
Scaly Silky
Glossy Matte
Sandy Slimy
Hairy Bald
Hard Soft
Prickly Velvety
Sharp Dull
Sticky Slippery

Your Next Art Lesson

If you enjoyed this lesson, be sure to check out another one in this series.

The Basic Elements of Art (Introduction)

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Form

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Shape

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value

More Art Lessons

Good Design Principle: An Introduction

Good Design Principle: Balance

Good Design Principle: Contrast

Good Design Principle: Emphasis

Good Design Principle: Movement

Good Design Principle: Proportion

Good Design Principle: Space

Good Design Principle: Visual Economy

Good Design Principle: Unity

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Index Of Art Articles

Art Appreciation

5 Tips on Choosing an Oil Painting for Your Home or Office

A Practical Guide To Caring For Your Oil Paintings

Becoming an Artist of Space Paintings

Classification Of Fine Art Paintings By Genre

Evening Sky Captured in a Sunset Oil Painting, The

Everyone Loves Wildlife Art

Floral Canvas Art In Your Home

Flower Art Through The Ages

Flower Paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, The

Flower Paintings of Vincent van Gogh, The

For The Love of Flower Oil Paintings

From Flower Gardens to Flower Paintings

Importance of Varnishing Oil Paintings, The

Know Your Art Painting Styles: 7 Most Popular

Many Types of Oil Painting Surfaces, The

Notes on Becoming an Artist of Flower Oil Paintings

Paintings of Sunsets by Claude Monet

Proper Care of Your Sunset Oil Paintings

Some Things To Consider When Buying Oil Paintings For Your Home

Speaking the “Lingo” of Oil Painting Artists

What Are The Classifications of Art?

What is Art Appreciation?

What is Fine Art?

Why Space Paintings Are Loved By So Many

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Art Glossary

Glossary of common art terms and their definitions.
A     |     B     |     C     |     D     |     E     |     F     |     G

H     |     I       |     J     |     K     |     L     |     M     |     N

O     |     P     |     Q     |     R     |     S     |     T     |     U

V     |     W     |     X     |     Y     |     Z

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Art Lessons

Basic Elements of Art, The

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 1

Basic Art Element — Color, Part 2

Basic Art Element — Form

Basic Art Element — Line

Basic Art Element — Shape

Basic Art Element — Space

Basic Art Element — Texture

Basic Art Element — Value

Good Design Principle: An Introduction

Good Design Principle: Balance

Good Design Principle: Contrast

Good Design Principle: Emphasis

Good Design Principle: Movement

Good Design Principle: Proportion

Good Design Principle: Space

Good Design Principle: Visual Economy

Good Design Principle: Unity

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Art Resources

Bible Scripture and Visual Art

Career Options For The Fine Artist

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Art Supplies

About Artist Stretcher Bar Frames

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 1

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 2

All You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Artist Brushes and Then Some — Part 3

Anatomy of The Artist Paint Brush

Artist Grade or Student Grade Oil Paint, Making a Choice

Common Paint Media Used By Artists

Complete List of Art Supplies for The Beginning Oil Painter

There Are Palette Knives and Then There Are Painting Knives

Taking The Mystery Out of Mahl Sticks

Types of Artist Brushes for Oil Painting

Types of Canvas Available for Painting

Types of Bristles for Oil Painting Brushes

What Every Oil Painter Needs to Know About Artist Oils, Part 1

What Every Oil Painter Needs to Know About Artist Oils, Part 2

What to Know About an Artist’s Oil Painting Palette — Part 1

What to Know About an Artist’s Oil Painting Palette — Part 2

What to Know About Gesso

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Art Tips

10 Tips for Painting Mountains

10 Tips for Photographing Your Own Paintings

10 Tips for Taking Artist Reference Photos

Creating Better Compositions In All Your Paintings

Creating Depth On A Flat Surface

Creating Depth in Your Paintings via Atmospheric Perspective

Flower Oil Paintings From Reference Photos

Is It Really Okay For Artists To Use Reference Photos? Part 1

Is It Really Okay For Artists To Use Reference Photos? Part 2

Making and Using a Viewfinder to Compose Better Paintings

Naming Your Artwork — Tips for the Fine Artist

Photographing the Setting Sun for Your Sunset Paintings

Rules of Perspective, The

Tips For Creating Stunning Sunset Paintings

Two Composition Techniques to Use in Your Paintings

Using a Grid to Enlarge and Transfer an Image to Canvas

Using Linear Perspective to Create Depth in Your Paintings

Using Photographs As Reference Material to Paint Flower Oil Paintings

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Business of Art

Marketing Your Space Paintings Online

Pricing Your Artwork — Taking A Two Step Approach

Ways To Market Your Artwork

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Test Your Knowledge Of Art

Can You Name These Famous Paintings From History?

Test Your Knowledge of Art Appreciation

Test Your Knowledge of COLOR Theory

Test Your Knowledge of Fine Art: Elements and Principles of Design

Test Your Knowledge of Fine Art: Painting

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