Whenever I'm asked to briefly explain what kind of art I do, the word I always reach for is 'textural art'.
Because I create using so many mediums. Paintings in oil, acrylic, gouache, watercolour and mixed media.
Textile wall hangings, 'paintings' sculptures. Ink and graphite or pastel sketches and fine art. Portraiture. Ceramics. Wood carving... you can see why it would be hard to say all that before they'd already walked away. The one thing they all share is texture.
Many assume texture has to have an actual raised textural feel, the rough and smooth, but in fact it doesn't; it can all be about what the eye perceives or sometimes it's only about touch or smell... confused yet?
Although I work with all possible ways...I would though wouldn't I?!
I was asked specifically about painting, so for this blog, I'll focus on that...using textiles may sound easy, but believe me...it's more complicated.
I usually start with an idea of whether I'm planning to paint something very textural or not, this is because, if I want to create a very kinaesthicially textural piece, I'll need to consider the gesso or primer of the wood or canvas. would wood work better, do I want the flexibility of canvas... these questions need to be asked first.
Lets say I'm using canvas...many of the techniques used with wood become lost or at least limited. So I would consider the gesso. I may decide a broad stroked, irregular palette knife be used to apply; maybe not everywhere. Variation is crucial as otherwise the eye or to be more precise, the brain, wouldn't recognise any difference and there's your key...difference.
Something of all the same texture achieves less than something with contrast.
Sometimes I've used wax, pumice, gel, sand or paste. Most often...I use paint and the technique.
Here I have crushed pumice into irregular grains, some almost a fine grit, others around 4mm. Mixed with a gesso or structure paste and applied with instinct, to the entire bottom thirds of a very large canvas , with a very undulating edge. Over time I would add and sand back layer after layer of acrylic paint and also oil pastel.
So let's go through a few more of these 'looks':
With this piece, painted onto birch wood, there is much less 'actual' physical depth but very much, visually.
It was a long process to achieve, because I wanted a painting which had the beautiful marks associated with sketches. So areas would be scratched at with an old rusty nail, other areas with sand paper, sealed, repainted, sanded in areas...and so on and on.
Using twigs to paint with, brushes made of taped together horse hair, palette knives, credit car edges, fingers,...the mistake to make is to fear taking risks; worrying about losing something early on, when it's history will never leave and will only lead to something more. This understanding, inner belief and release is crucial.
Sometimes, an area that is intended to be subtle is not paid sufficient attention. However ALL areas are equally as important. It is only as a whole that something is united and complete.
So this next image shows how what was a section of subtly. When examined closely, it becomes clear it is actually very very intricate.
The 'crackle' effect that you can see underneath, wasn't achieved using any crackle medium, that would be far too intense. This effect was created by using layers, pallet knife blades, sanding back, repainting with thick layers of paint, scoring into that and again sanding back.
Eventually, the initial colours and new shapes reveal themselves.
To lead the eye to notice this subtle area as equally valuable and interesting as the busy colourful areas, it's important to focus on the contrast or colour 'value', and surround it with a different texture too. So you will see how adjoining the 'crackle' area I created an area of soft cloud like text
re is an example of a completely different surface and technique.
Painted onto a very heavyweight cotton Khadi paper; acrylic, graphite and charcoal was used.
Because I used a heavyweight, handmade and deep textural surface to work on, the need is to 'control' the texture, restrain it rather than focussing on creating. It's seeing the surface and working out which areas need to be reduced, where the natural variations will add what you seek and then 'trick the eye' to see smoother areas, which in actuality may indeed be equally as physically tactile.
Using high contrast and blocks of colour tells the brain something is smoother, when in fact it has no difference.
This was a very complicated and lengthy technical painting to complete.
I wanted to create an aged, weathered effect without it being simply sanded.
I added the extreme contrast of smooth and bright 'glass' in the partial stained glass window.
I also wanted some actual physical texture and so in some places carved into the wood to create the boards of a window frame, but not in entirety.
Then the added texture of a Raven, showing the glossy light effect of feather but mindful of the need of keeping it different from the stained glass.
This piece was a creation of love, trust and patience for me. Allowing for mistakes, knowing something would always come from them. Taking risks. Adding acid paper in places and inks in others.
At times using a glazing medium to paints at other adding a glaze finish to some areas and a matt surface to others, before a finish with wax, which would be buffed to a shine in some areas and kept muted in others.
This is a large painting on birch wood.
I chose wood as I knew there would be areas I would want to heavily layer and sand back, although this would create other areas to be more difficult because of this choice, as the flexibility and softness of canvas would be easier to achieve the graphite standing stone for example.
In this segment you can see how there are many underlayers, evident by the thickly applied layers . Then using either a large palette knife or decorators plaster scrim tool or my favourite, a silicone artist 'brush', paint can be dragged with varying tensions, across the surface to create difference and texture. Notice how this is set against a contrast of smooth areas, pastel, and graphite, all creating curiosity and interest which stimulates the brain to want to know more.
Texture is not a simple thing!
I'd love to hear any questions or thoughts you may have....see you soon... for another look into 'texture'