Texture In Art

by bryantjaquez on January 7, 2013

how to create texture in artWhen we think of creating our own work of art there are so many things to consider: the support or surface, subject matter, background, light source, center of interest, and so forth. We know what makes up a good overall design: color management, value, and intensity control, creating a good focal point, line of design, etc. But, how often do we think of texture and the role it plays. Or do we even think of it at all?

Texture what is it and where is it?

We can see ‘texture’ in the simplest of places. It’s all around us. It can be seen here on the skin of a luscious strawberry.
how to create shinny texture in artTexture is seen in the repetitive shapes, the shiny candy wrappers, and the mix of colors.
how to create stone texture in art We can see texture in old stone work, the shutters, the rusted tin awnings, and the tree branches that frame the edge of the photograph.
how to create smooth texture in art The repetitive shapes and colors of the shiny glass marbles tells us that the surface texture is hard, glassy and shiny.
Imagine cuddling these baby ducks. The texture of their soft downy feathers is a visual texture easy to imagine.
create a dry texture in a paintingHere we can just imagine the rough and dry feel of the lichen that grows here on a fallen log in the forest.
how to create a whicker basket textureThe ‘texture’ of the woven wicker captures our attention. The pattern gives the viewer details to look at. The simple markings of age, provide us with additional information to imagine what the leather strap feels like.
how to create a reflective texture in art The reflective, and mirror-like surface of the clear glass is obvious. Artist try to illustrate this texture when they wish to create the essence of the object.
how to create a cactus like plant texture in art Visual patterning is shown on these leaves. A definite pattern of light and darker values create the surface texture.
how to create the illusion of a water's surface in a painting The pattern on the turtle’s shell and the water’s surface create extensive texture and visual patterning. So much so that the turtle is difficult to see.
how to create a juicy texture in artThe cut pomegranate reveals her hidden texture. The seeds form an interesting pattern. Can you see why the Old Dutch Masters often included this interesting fruit in their compositions?

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Types Of Texture – “Relief” Vs. “Visual.”

Let’s take a look at the two different types of textures and some examples and the roles they might play in our paintings.

relief textureFirst there is relief texture, which would be anything that is raised from the surface. Examples of relief texture would be impasto or heavily textured strokes as seen in many of impressionistic paintings.
Then there is visual texture, this would be anything that is perceived by the sense of sight to have texture: e.g. a mottled or sponged background, clouds, feathers, fine grasses, sponge ware or speckled pottery, a waterfall, sea shells, flowers, leaves. etc.
Visual TextureLet’s talk about ‘Visual Texture’. Visual texture can also be used to describe the surface of the object. Look at the images on the left, the texture of the bark, the patterning on the orchid or the texture on the cactus.

Can you see that each of these will need to be treated in different ways so the viewer can understand how these feel to the touch? Color, value and intensity can be used to describe this texture.

This can be described with mottling or sponging the background of a painting. We know the background should stay in the back, so anything like texture that we do back there should be subtle. Values of the colors used would need to be quite close, intensities should be dull or soft. This type of background would be a very effective way to carry color (subtly), and then of course it would add to the overall effect of the composition, but without drawing the eye or creating too much.

Strong color along the outer edges of this rose bleed into the petals forming a delicate pattern. Can you see the texture? Let’s look at this visual texture, for example on a rose that is in the center of interest area like the one above in the photograph. It would require stronger visual texture on the outer edges of the petals, stronger lights on the turned edges, more color, detail, and contrast with perhaps the addition of bug bites and stamens, the veins within the petals would possibly be visible as well. This visual texturing is achieved through more detailing, stronger contrast between colors and values, sharper lines, and the like. A rose in the background of the design would have much less (details and contrast) of everything.

Textures In a Landscape: Now let’s look at relief texture in a simple landscape: Trees, a winding road, some rocks in the foreground, shrubs and grasses, clouds and sky. Whatever you use to create relief texture either with a heavier application of paint or with the additions of texture medium, a palette knife, stiff brushes, you would have a heavier application in front where you want the viewer to look and less as the eye travels to the rear plane (In the background of the painting).
The artist could also make use of visual texture in the random patterns created by the clouds in the sky. Everything helps the artist create interest.

Textures To Consider When Painting Fur – Animals

Fur has many textures…Artists strive to create textures that allude to the true characteristics of the animals they wish paint. When painting their fur, these textures play important roles. From a technical point of view the placement and texture of the fur helps the viewer understand the individual characteristics of the animal in a particular setting or habitat.

how to paint lion fur These fur textures are rendered in a variety of ways, but first the artist needs to understand what these various types of hair or fur feels like, or looks like to make the animal unique and realistic. Here are some of the most common pointers we give students when we instruct them on how to paint fur.

  • Texture – Course and stiff hair: This is found on lions, wolves, or other large animals and cats.
  • Texture – Soft and ‘fluffy’: as found on young animals.
  • Length – Short hair: small animals like the squirrel, rabbits, chipmunks.
  • Length – Long hair:
  • Patterned – fur found on leopards, giraffes, zebras, etc.
  • Two Tone – Panda, dogs and cats.
  • Wave – Straight or curly – sheep, goats
how to paint fur texture Artists convey the texture of fur by using brush strokes, contour of the stroke, and placement of the strokes to convey the thickness or density of the fur. The Panda has a very dense coat to protect it from harsh winters.
Characteristics of painting fur in unique situations

  • Light – How does the artist convey fur reacting to different types of light?
  • Wet – how does the artist paint wet fur?
  • Color – How does the artist paint different colors of fur?
fur texture The ‘King of the Jungle’ – His fur is stiff and course and quite short except for his long mane, and his hide extremely strong to serve as a suit of armour. Look at the growth pattern or direction that the hair grows in.

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Fur Textures – What To Look For – Animals.

Artists pay close Attention to the following when painting fur…

  • Create Texture – straight or curly – overlapping brush strokes.
  • Establish Length – short or long brush strokes.
  • Create Depth – shadow values between the fur.
  • Create Density – thick or thin coat.
  • Establish Direction – growth pattern.
  • Address Patterning – decorations of the animal, eg. spots, stripes etc.
  • Judge the Perspective in patterns – some spots will be ellipses.
  • Create Highlights – the light source will determine these.
how to paint a horseBoth hair and fur are approached in the same way. For this article we will look at different animals and think about some of the things the artist has to consider before they begin painting. Horses and Mules have short hair. The hair is so short that it reveals the muscular changes and structure of the animal. Short hair like this is painted with very short and fine brushstrokes. These brushstrokes are often reserved for close up viewing and not used across the entire body mass.
how to paint a pigPigs have very stiff and course hair. The length is short. Take a look at the close up image of hog hair in the image below. Note the way the hair grows to follow the contour of the body mass. When two different colors of hair grow on the same animal, brushstrokes are used to blend or merge the two colors together. Note the way the lighter value of hair is placed and overlaps into the dark patches of hair.
how to paint animal pigThis technique can be used for most types of animal hair that have more than one color. Pay close attention to the perspective of the spots, remember these spots are circles, what happens to circles when they are seen at different perspectives? They turn into ellipses. This is important for accuracy in depicting the animals true form.
Squirrels have both long and short hair. The tail is bushy and the body made up of shorter stiffer fur. Changes in value help to create the interest in this type of short hair. Note the way the fur is painted on the outer edges of the animal. we can see the actual hairs protruding from the body.
Colored blends of fur follow the contour of the body. Here we can see the ‘direction’ that the fur grows in. Notice that the individual hair is not pin straight everywhere, the actual hairs show curvature in them. They also follow the natural contour of the body. The more dramatic the curve, shows the fur lifting off the body of the animal. Look at the outer edges of the animal, the fur is quite dense, and does not show fly-away hair.
how to paint sheep whoolSheep have curly hair. Very long, dense,and thick. This type of texture is always challenging for the realist artist as the surface offers many challenges. It grows in all directions, with twists and turns and many curls. Pay close attention to the highlights on only some of the small groupings.
grizzly hair textureThe hair of a Grizzly bear is longer, disheveled and stiffer. There is no curl or softness to it. This type of fur is painted with brush detail and alternating washes of color to create the depth of the dense fur. When painting this kind of fur, try to look at the shadowed area between the hairs, this will indicate what your base color should be. Always work from a base of dark to lighter.
This Black Bear cub may be cute and cuddly, but the fur is still courser than a teddy bear. Take note of the lighter golden values of color on the muzzle compared to the darker values of fur on the body. The lighter values of fur are easier to paint when they are placed on a medium to dark value base coat.
Giraffe spots provide interesting fur patterns to observe. They have irregular margins, they show value change within the spots and the edges appear a little blurred. The colors used to paint these patterns should share a harmony for them to look realistic. A simple toned wash can create a harmonic effect.
Follow the contour – The fur on this large cat follows the natural contours and skin folds of the animal. It is a good idea to look for these and to map out the fur direction prior to painting.
how to paint an unruly fur textureThick course hair grows in an unruly pattern. Note the way it curves, and has shadows between the groups of hair. Look for highlights on the highest part of the curves.
What brushes does the artist use to paint fur?
  • Rakes and comb brushes – creating bulk, fine soft detailed work.
  • Liners – long and short – detail and individual hairs.
  • Large flat, wash brushes – application of washes.
  • Mops – to disperse transparent glazes for adjusting hue, intensity and value.

The ‘Textures’ when painting whimsical styles…

Creating Visual texture – Artists often use color and detail to create the illusion of textural characteristics not only for realism but when painting fun whimsical styles. Often, these textures can be exaggerated to emphasize the character, or can also be treated with realistic techniques to bring them more to life. The artist can use or alter colors to create interest and add detail to individual elements.

For example, learning to paint realistic fur and hair, when painting the natural texture of animal fur comes in very handy when painting a stylistic whimsical character like the ‘Father Christmas’ shown below. The techniques that are used to paint realism are the same and transfer from painting to painting.

Waiting for Christmas Eve by Neadeen Masters – This painting lesson below will show the student how to create the visual texture of both animal fur and realistic hair. These are transferrable skills that can be implimented when painting animals that require longer fur. It is important to establish texture in our paintings as this enhances interest. This is an e-packet and is available for your immediate download when purchased.

Check Out Our “How To Paint Santa” Class.

Surface Texture Of Flower Petals.

The ‘Textures’ of flower petals…Artists use color and detail to create the illusion of the texturalcharacteristics of the petal’s surface. Some flowers have petals that feel like velvet, some like silk, some soft and smooth, others may be like rubber, others feel and look so sheer because they are fragile and easily blemished. All of these textural characteristics can be created if the artists understands that the surface texture is usually a response to light and how it plays off the petal’s surface.For example, a velvety surface will not reflect light in the same manner as the surface that is polished and will exhibit a greater shine. When studying flower petals, look at the amount of shine and how it is reflected off the surface. The more ‘fuzzy’ the surface, the less light will be reflected.

  • Is the surface of the petal smooth or fuzzy?
  • What does the petals surface feel like?
  • Is the petal’s surface dull or reflective (shiny)?
  • Is the petal’s surface sheer and very fragile?
  • Are there markings on the petal, i.e. visual patterning?
  • Are there striations or vein lines?
  • What values are the vein lines, are they lighter or darker than the petals?
  • Are the petals translucent, so thin that light seems to pass through them?

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Surface Texture Of Water For Landscapes And Seascapes.

The Visual surface ‘textures’ of water: What does the artist look for when painting water? First they begin paying close attention to the reflective quality of the water and if it is still or moving. The air also plays a major role in painting water, the surface reacts to moving air such as wind. On a river when the flow is low at the end of the Fall Season, the waters surface can be as calm as a lake, just like a mirror. Look at the examples below, calm water that is highly reflective offers the artist a wonderful opportunity for painting reflections. Moving water can offer interesting textures. A single pebble ‘plopped’ into still water can send a rippling effect for several yards across the surface, creating texture on an otherwise flat surface. When water changes from a calm flow to quickly falling off the edge of a cliff or a sudden drop in a river, it can also create a lot of texture and interest, sometimes referred to as ‘white water’.

Shallow water that is still, allows the artist to observe what is going on under the water. Can you see the pebbles and small stones on the bottom? Look at the way the light reflected off the surface when a pebble was dropped into the water.
Shallow water that is moving, as shown in the examples below will usually offer some unique patterns creating additional surface textures. Look at the breaking waves on the shore, and the rushing water in the river below as it flows over the rocks. Can you see the lacy pattern that is made near the shore and the ‘white water’ on the river?
Below, we can observe what happens in the beautiful tropical waters. Look for changes in the depth of the water.The image on the left, taken in Hawaii, offers the artist a chance to ‘read’ the water’s depth based on color. Ancient Mariners and Ocean sailors still use this method as a way to judge the depths of Ocean water. The deeper the blue of the ocean, the deeper the depths. Shallow-er water is usually more aqua or green in color. This is what prevents sail boats from running aground in shallow waters.
Surface texture on water creates ‘mood’ for the painting. Artists need to understand all the physical occurrences that are taking place in the situation for them to paint anything realistically. Look at the photograph in the lower right corner, can you see the water near the shoreline is shallow? Can you see the color of the sand through the clear water? A soft tropical breeze is blowing across the surface of the water causing a slight rippling effect on the otherwise calm water. The texture of the water in this photograph can help create the mood of the painting. Texture can have an effect on the viewer, so when you paint your next seascape, think about the mood that you are trying to convey, and if the texture of the water implies or helps that mood.

The surface textures of moving water
In this photograph, the surface texture of the water is barely visible and it does not affect how we see the giant Koi fish swimming in the pond. There is no surface texture to distract from the fish that is swimming very close to the surface, so close we can see the brilliant Yellow Orange colors and it almost appears the fish is above the water! We can just make out the surface texture on the right side of the image and the ripples formed by a passing duck.

Watergarden by Neadeen Masters – This painting lesson below provides an opportunity for the artist to create the texture of calm water surfaces. This is an e-packet and is available for your immediate download as soon as purchased.

The Surface Textures Of Metal – Still Life

Metal is a hard, non porous, highly reflective surface. If we tap metal, it resonates or reverberates a sound, and some metals resonate more than others. Clean polished silver, brass and copper are the most reflective of the metal surfaces with the ‘shininess’ of metal determined by the strength of the light source which falls upon it. Still Life Artists always consider the quality and quantity of light when planning their compositions, and if they include a metal object, the reflective properties of the object are factored into the planning of the composition. This is an important consideration as the shines can either add to the composition by providing interest, or they can become a distraction.

how to paint an antique metel textureAntique Pewter: The pewter in this still life has a smooth texture and the shine can be recognized by the strong contrast where the light hits it first on the middle right side. The carved details add depth and dimension through the use of light and dark values. The two pieces in the foreground are lighter because they are closer to the light source. Note that the blue reflected light color on the left side which translates as a cool color of the silver.

The closer the object sits to the light source the higher-in value, the shine will become. Pewter and tarnished metals are duller than highly polished silver or brass, thus making their surfaces less reflective.

how to paint an Antique Pewter texturePewter: The pewter pitcher is not as smooth in texture and therefore has a duller shine than the pewter pictured above. Colors from the red tablecloth are reflected into the metal as the tablecloth is extremely close to the pitcher. Also, take notice how the dark values are less in contrast; strong contrast equals shiny polished metal as low contrast equals duller brushed metals.Some metal objects like pewter can have a smooth texture whereas others can have a dull, brushed surface.
how to paint a Tin textureTin Ware: Primed tin ware is ready for painting. If the artist was to include these dark value objects into their compositions they would have to consider the range of values to create the ‘form’ of them. The dark surface absorbs light and there are softer highlights without high shines. This is because the surface appears quite matte or dull.
how to paint brass textureBrass: Brass that has not been cleaned, or polished has a natural patina on it. This patina is a natural occurrence when the brass or metal is exposed to gasses in the air. In homes, where natural gas is a source of heating, the brass will tarnish or oxidize creating the greenish patches of color seen on the base of this candlestick. Notice the ‘soft’ shines – showing a smaller range of values.
how to paint a silver textureSilver: The shines on this antique silver planter are also reduced. Is it the texture of the object’s surface or is it the amount of light (quantity) in the composition causing this? The answer is both.

how to paint antique glass textureAntique Glass and Silver: The silver on this wine decanter is very shiny and highly polished. The shines are strong and crisp. Notice how the values range from black (value 1) to white (value 10) within very small areas. The carved handle is not as smooth in texture as the polished neck and foot therefore more texture equals less shine.

how to paint antique copper textureCopper: The copper jelly mold has crevices which create a blockade for certain light. This allows for the higher peaks to illuminate and capture more shine than the lower areas of the piece. Notice how the medians between the “mountain like” areas are dark-revealing areas where light is unreachable.

The small peaks on the bottom of this copper jelly mold grasp a small fraction of the total amount of light falling on the object; however this represents and describes a difference of depth and structure. If there were to be no light, the object would be less three dimensional and appear flat. This object represents a variation in structural form. Light touches the highest points of the object and ignores those that are hidden behind. Copper is also one of those metals that will oxidize when exposed to air. This happens over time. Many artists like to include tarnished copper in their still Life compositions showcasing it’s natural patina.

Patina – This is a natural film or texture that forms on an object as a result of oxidation, this is due to age and exposure to pollutants in the air. Antique objects may loose their antique value if the ‘patina’ is removed.

Surface Textures of Enamel

What is Enamel? Enamel is a surface coating that is applied to metal containers and objects. This coating is actually a very thin layer of glass that is applied to the surface and after high heat (800 C) has been applied, the tiny glass molecules in the coating are fused to the surface making it very hard and quite durable. Enamel does chip, and these chips can eventually rust. This is what attracts the artist to them, the rust forms intricate patterns on the surface and lends character to it. The words ‘smelzan’ an old German word and the French word meaning ‘esmail’ were used to describe the enameling process. Vitreous enamel is what we now know as ‘Porcelain Enamel’ today.

Enameled surfaces have been used by artists for hundreds of years. The famous artist Carl Faberge was known for using enamel on his beautiful eggs and jewellery. Enamel containers have been featured in Still Life paintings that have an Old World feeling about them. These containers have been highly prized by collectors because of their aged and characteristic look; because of this, they can be ‘fun’ subjects to include in compositions.

Enameled jewellery has been found in Cyprus and is believed to be from the thirteenth Century. This jewellery from a Mycenaean tomb at a location in Kouklia, was decorated with a coating believed to be vitreous, suggesting an enameled application. This proves that the process has had its unique appeal for hundreds of years.

how to paint enamelhow to paint the shine on enamel Enamel Coffee Pot: Enamel surfaces are similar to other reflective surfaces. There is a degree of shine and a reflective quality that the artist has to describe. Sometimes, as in the case of the example above, the color of the enamel ware is a blue green. If the artist uses the container as is, they will have to build and create a value scale to match the blue-green hue. Pay close attention to the quick change in values from the shine to the rest of the container. When shown in gray-scale, the range of values is seen more easily.

Patterns also react to the light source and will change in value accordingly: In the example above, the coffee pot’s lid and the thin rim at the base has rusted.

The pattern on the enamel is a mottled or ‘spotted’ pattern similar to an animal skin. Note the way the markings also change in value as they react to the light. The value of the background and the gray spots lighten at the same rate.

It is important to read the shape of the container and position the reflective characteristics in such a way that they exhibit the true form of the container.

Texture in traditional Folk Art And Stroke Work

In this stylized and sophisticated composition, the artist has utilized texture in the painting of leaves and the larger elements of the painting. Brushwork is raised and the edges of petals and leaves provide visual texture for interest.
Some artists prefer a style of painting where visual texture is combined with a degree of relief texture. This combination creates a loose, spontaneous, and ‘painterly’ style of art. When one passes a hand over the work, they can appreciate the raised brushwork.
In Decorative Painting, Decorative Artists master the loading of the brush in order to give their brushstrokes a specific textural appearance. This becomes an important aspect of the Historical styles.
Creating texture in stroke work is a contributing factor to the ‘stroke work’ being authentic. It is vital to the fluidity and grace of the work, that each stroke be pulled in one continuous motion.
Stroke work on metal Tin is a Traditional Folk art motif. Susan Abdella, MDA, Master Stroke Artist has worked at perfecting the art of stroking and creating the correct amount of texture in her designs.
In a close up of the stroke work, the viewer can see how important it is to load the brush correctly. The right amount of paint teamed with enough paint to leave a little texture behind is vital. At the same time, it is important to have the paint’s viscosity fluid enough to flow for the musical pulling of the stroke.

Golden Harvest by Gaby Hunter:

This painting lesson will show the student how to create soft textures of fruit for folk art style painting. It is important to establish texture to create interest in the focal area of the painting. This is a 2 hr. DVD presentation featuring artist Gaby Hunter.

Surface Texture In Vegetables – Still Life.

All surface textures offer challenges to the artist, whether they come from vegetables, fruit, metals or flower petals. The same considerations apply as high shine, or low shine becomes the deciding factor on how we describe them with paint and texture.

how to paint a tomatoThe texture on this bell pepper is smooth and shiny which is apparent in the strong contrast in value from red to white indicating the light is not absorbed therefore the texture is hard and smooth. The stems texture is rough in relationship to the pepper as it absorbs the light.

Hard, bumpy, highs and lows, dimples, rough are all descriptions of this avocado’s texture.

The fragmented light is dispersed around the high areas of the avocado revealing the peaks which tells the viewer the surface is bumpy.

The texture on the outer skin of the onion is very fragile and paper thin. As the onion ages the paper thin layer gets dry and brittle peeling off like a dead layer of skin revealing a new fresh layer underneath.

The roots are very thin like string as the onion ages the roots get brittle and dry.

The surface of a pumpkin is hard, the texture smooth although linear grooves on the surface allow for dark concave areas to add interest and give the pumpkin its character. The stems are very rough in texture and porous absorbing the light.

These onions are very smooth and shiny in relation to the onion above. The light source is obviously stronger and brighter and these onions appear to be fresher than the onion above. Note the change in color compared to the onion above.

Variety is the spice of life in this photo. Textures exhibited are smooth versus rough, variegated compared to plain. All of these surfaces are hard to the touch and absorb the light because of the lack of strong contrast in the light areas.

These also exhibit visual patterning as seen in the interestig markings on the surface.

Compare the shiny surface of the tomatoes to the rest of the vegetables in this photo. This photo shows the difference between shiny and dull surfaces.

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How To Paint The Texture Of Birds And Feathers.

how to paint a featherWhen we think of texture, birds may not be the first subjects that comes into our mind. However, just like the skins and furs of animals, birds feathers protect them from the elements and provide camouflage or serve to attract other birds, such as a mate. Feathers react to light in many ways, some feathers are highly reflective because of the natural water-proofing oils that birds dress them with. Some feathers are brightly colored, others drab for their ‘hiding ‘ or camouflaging ability. All together, feathers make birds very interesting subjects for the artist to paint.

how to paint a birdWhite birds can be stunning to observe. Light plays off the brilliance of the white and in many instances the white will act like a mirror, playing off the colors of the surroundings. However, white birds can be difficult for the artist to paint. Are there shadows seen in the white? Yes – look closely at the image on the left, soft cast and body shadows can be seen under the wing, on the side of the neck, and between the tail feathers. The artist must consider the base color to create the true ‘form’ of the bird’s body.
how to paint a swanFor an artist, white is never boring – challenging perhaps, but not boring. White subjects offer opportunity to carry color from other areas. Look at the reflection from the pond on the underside of this duck. Waterfowl can be interesting subjects to paint because their natural habitats also offer stunning complexity.
how to paint a white owlThis white owl offers the same challenges to the artist. Upon closer inspection, we can see that the white is actually shades of gray with warm golden white highlights. The whites of these feathers are almost luminescent in quality.
how to paint an eagleIt is important to describe the details on the actual feathers. Look closely at the wing of this Bald Eagle, the feathers change in value with show a lighter value brown hue on the outer edges of the feathers. The white feathers at the collar overlap the brown body. Note the direction of the feathers, they follow the contour and form of the bird’s body.
Colored feathers can also be created with transparent glazes of color, applied after the detail has been established. These tiny contour feathers that cover the breast of this bird, show some texture but with little contrast. Each bird will offer different textural challenges.
When painting birds, the artist has to apply the principles for creating ‘form’. Birds have to be described in three dimensional terms just the same as a container in a Still Life composition. Body shadows will help the artist observe this. Look for the shadows on the underside of the body and the back of the head.
how to paint a macawContour feathers are the tiny little feathers that cover the body of the bird. These are shown here on the head of a Macaw. They are called ‘contour’ because they are curved in shape, hug the body and help follow the shape of the body for protection and insulation against water and climate.
Here are some examples of the contour feathers from some birds. Note the curvature of the thin shaft that runs up the center of the feather.

Macaw by Neadeen MastersThis painting lesson below provides an opportunity for the artist to create the texture of fine feathers and a mottled background support. This is an e-packet and is available for your immediate download as soon as purchased.

How To Paint The Textures Of Fruit.

Still Life painters have included fruit in their compositions for hundreds of years. The Dutch Masters from the Golden Era of painting (seventeenth century) were famous for these types of compositions. Often they would include insects and bugs for their symbolic meanings.The skins or coverings of fruit are varied. They can be described as follows:

  • Shiny – Reflective when polished – Apples, pears
  • Patterned – Mottled, speckled, striations – Apples, pears, bananas.
  • Dull – Those fruit covered in ‘bloom’ (a type of yeast mold) – plums, grapes, berries.
  • Pitted – Highly textured like a strawberry.
  • Fuzzy – Velvet like a peach or apricot.
  • Rough – Kiwi

When painting fruit skin – the texture is dependent upon the amount of light that is reflected from the surface of the fruit. The more smooth the more light will be reflected so the fruit will have higher shines on it.

The apple in image #3, in comparison to the ones above in image #2, which has one light source noticeable by the minute shine in the bottom right corner. Its smooth surface is distinguished by the sharpness of the reflection, whereas in the picture above it, the light source is scattered because the fruit is unwashed and the light source is not directional in nature. There are no dirt or dust soils on the clean piece of fruit which gives it its smooth polished surface.

Texture is an important characteristic of fruit as is form and color. As you see in this image the unwashed plums have a fine coating of yeast mold which takes away from the shine.
Washed, polished fruit will reflect a stronger shine than unwashed. Compare the images to see how the value of the shines is different. Every piece of fruit is impacted because each is unique, having their own special characteristics.
Apple skin can be smooth or appear granulated depending on the specific variety of apple. In the photo above, the apples that are still in the tree are outside, and grasp light from all directions. The light source (sun) touches all areas of the apple.
The colors change in clusters of grapes. The textures appears dull and hazy because of the lack of direct light. The grapes in shade are cooler in color than those in sunshine, making their color appear duller. This dull color contributes to the texture by giving them a dull fuzzy appearance.
Grapes have similar characteristics to plums, both have the mottled texture of the yeast mold. In painting them, this texture can be achieved in the final stages by using a dry brush and minute amounts of paint applied with a scumbling technique.
These pears appear very smooth to the touch. It is the mottled texture that adds variations in the fruit’s skin. The texture in the blossom ends, stems and branches will give the pear its distinct characteristics separating it from other fruit. As with all fruit and vegetables, the form should be first created, then the artist creates the fruit’s personality through the use of texture.
When photographing and setting up a fruit still life consideration of the surface textures will add interest. Peaches have fuzzy skin, plums smooth with mottled yeast mold, and lemons with dimpled highs and lows on the surface. A variety of texture in your still life setups will add a level of dimension for the viewer.
The Strawberry skin appears silky smooth in this picture and allows for high shines where the forward areas appear to be reaching for the light. The highs and lows of the seed pockets add sparkles of light that dance around. The leaves are fuzzy in texture which adds interest. One being shiny the other dull.
Painting cut fruit adds another level of interest and diversity to a composition. The properties of the shiny seeds next to the dull texture of the meat appear to have opposite textural characteristics. The seeds are wet and full of juice which lends itself to many sparkles of shines and light.
Fuzzy texture is very apparent on the kiwi skin, again showing extreme differences comparing the outside of fruit to the inside. Mottled texture, bright color, and extreme value changes from light to dark make painting inside of fruit more technically challenging.
Lemons have dimples of highs and lows in their skin which can be achieved by using close value changes and a dry brush stippling technique. This is one of those still life set-ups that have simplicity in the overall composition as each fruit is the same in texture. The artist’s challenge is creating differences in objects that are the same.
Now compare this picture to the lemons above, color and shapes are changed, this shows the simplicity of the lemons in relationship to the difference in the shape and texture of the banana peel.

Congratulations! You Have Finished Reading Our “Intro To Texture” Blog Post.

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