Top 6 Ways to Create Texture in Oil Painting

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Have you ever wanted to experiment and create texture in oil painting?

If you want to create texture in oil painting, this can be a challenge as there as so many options from which to choose.

Oil color, with its mediums, lends well to glazing techniques with a smooth varnished finish. However, there are a large variety of texture effects that can be attained in oil painting using traditional techniques like impasto, or simply through experimentation.

This article will browse through the several popular oil painting effects, and how they can be used to create texture in oil painting.

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Here are My Top 6 Ways to Create Texture in Oil Painting

Texture TechniqueMost Effective Application
1) Impasto - Applying large quantities of paint with a brush or palette knife, usually with a very gestural quality.Color mixed with Winsor & Newton Oleopasto Medium using palette knife or large brush; no drying oils or solvents;
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2) Scumbling - A layer of broken, speckled, or scratchy color is added over another color so that bits of the lower layer(s) of color show through the scrumbling. Color straight from the tube; no drying oils or solvents
3) Ala Prima - Refers to the process of painting in one sitting.Color straight from the tube; Limited amounts of drying oils or solvents
4) Pulling - Color is dragged with a brush quickly, with the intention of leaving exposed areas of the layer underneath.Color straight from the tube; no drying oils or solvents
5) Dabbing - Layers of paint are applied in short dabs or brushstrokes over the entire surface in even or uneven intervals.Color straight from the tube; no drying oils or solvents
6) Collage -
Incorporating Other Various Materials into an oil painting can also bring in an element of texture.
Organic or inorganic materials added directly into the painted surface to add texture or layers.

1) Impasto

Prepare yourself with tons of oil color before embarking on an impasto oil painting journey.

Impasto is the technique of applying large quantities of paint with a brush or palette knife, usually with a very gestural quality.

Impasto brush marks showing thick application of paint

The effect is a three-dimensional aspect to the surface.

Often, specific mediums created for impasto painting are used to increase the thick texture of the paint while slightly reducing the amount of paint that would otherwise have been applied directly from the tube.

Such mediums, like oleopasto, are also helpful in aiding in the drying process as they hold their shape as the paint dries.

Sometimes impasto can be used in traditional painting if done lightly in only certain pinnacle areas, like bright highlights.

Most effective application – Color mixed with oleopasto medium using palette knife or large brush ; no drying oils or solvents.

Here are suggested supplies you will need for successful Impasto:

top 6 ways to create texture in oil painting
Olepasto is used in Impasto painting to increase the thick texture of the paint while slightly reducing the amount of paint that would otherwise have been applied directly from the tube.
A good set of palette knives is useful for impasto and other textural effects
Bristle brushes can be used to create Impasto texture

2) Scumbling

The procedure involved in scumbling oil paint is reminiscent of an art project you may have done in elementary school.

It is a painting technique in which a layer of broken, speckled, or scratchy color is added over another color so that bits of the lower layer(s) of color show through the scumbling. The result gives a sense of depth and color variation to an area.

It can also be achieved by painting a fairly thick application of color, and then removing the paint with an absorbent textured object like a rag, sponge or dry brush. The end result is to have the lower levels of color show through the upper levels.

Using the term a little more loosely, scumbling can also refer to the process in which paint is blurred or blended on the surface with a rag. In scumbling, the more creative the texture used, the more interesting a texture it will create.

Experimentation lovers will adore this painting style.

Most effective application – Color straight from the tube; no drying oils or solvents

 

3) Ala Prima

Painting ala prima typically refers to the process of painting in one sitting. The application of color is quick, and commonly full of expression for the creative artist. The texture is created in an impromptu way through the manipulation of a thicker layer of paint.

Ala prima technique does not involve layers or glazing. As such, the rule of “flexible over inflexible” or “Fat over Lean” does not necessarily apply.

However, dull areas and cracking can still occur, so it is imperative that when painting ala prima that too many solvents or mediums are not used.

Instead, paintings in an ala prima style are usually painted with color straight from the tube or with a minimal use of drying oil or solvents.

Most effective application – Color straight from the tube; limited amount of drying oils or solvents

4) Pulling

Pulling the paint across the surface in a carefree, unapologetic way is common amongst expressionist painting.

The color is dragged with a brush quickly, with the intention of leaving exposed areas of the layer underneath. The effect is one of obvious layering and open-ended brush stroke.

Pulling is ideal for expressing movement or gesture.

Most effective application – Color straight from the tube; limited amount of drying oils or solvents

5) Dabbing

The French Impressionists frequently used dabbing as a technique toward their expression of light and color.

Dabbing is just as it sounds, where layers of paint are applied in short dabs or brushstrokes over the entire surface in even or uneven intervals.

Similar to pointillism, dabbing allows a unique play of color and texture on the overlapping marks of paint.

Most effective application – Color straight from the tube; limited amount of drying oils or solvents

6) Collage or Incorporating Other Materials

The possibilities of texture created with oil paint are limitless. Beyond manipulating the paint, however, other materials worked into an oil painting can also bring in an element of texture.

Especially organic materials that are compatible with the components of oil color and can be adhered easily to the paint, like feathers, burlap and other textiles, are wonderful texture additives.

Creating texture with oil paints certainly can be fun as well as challenging.

Learn more about the top artist oil paint brands I recommend.

If you have any other ideas about how to create texture in oil painting, I would certainly love to hear about them in the comments below.

Other Useful Pages:

Ultimate Art Supply Guide

Gary’s Book Club

Resources For Artists

Art Print & Gift Shop

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Comments

  1. Theresa Karpowicz says

    I received a painting where the tree trunk looked 3 dementional, the mountain had streaks
    of raised white. Could this have been done with elpasto??

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