Actual Texture and Paint Sculpting

We all know the works of master painter Vincent Van Gogh, but few know just how much texture is present his paintings. Last year photo of the day sites like “Twisted Sifter” brought us a closer look at Van Gogh’s masterpieces and blew us away at the rich texture these paintings have. His unique Post-Impressionist style gave way to inspire many artists that came after him, but those who have never and perhaps will never see his works in person can still appreciate what he had accomplished as an artist.

However, let us return to our initial topic of texture. There is a technique that often goes unnoticed in the painting world and that is the use of and difference between actual and perceived texture. Perceived texture is the use of value/contrast and color to create the illusion of certain textures (such as stone, wood, or metal). Actual texture though is very different. While many mixed media artists will be familiar with the use of various materials in a collage, there is also a technique for painters that is often referred to as “impasto”. The impasto style of painting uses thick areas of paint to create little “mountains” of the medium on a canvas (or other support). For example in my recent painting “Discovery” I used a heavy application of Golden’s Light Molding Paste, to build a raised section of the painting. While I realize in the use of such a technique is nothing new, I’ve started calling this technique “Paint Sculpting.” In short, it’s about how can I continue to use traditional 2D methods while slowly incorporating impasto techniques to create a more dynamic visual experience.

Remembering the master works of Van Gogh while still inspired by today’s concept artists, my work continues as I push for the next great idea as well as its execution. It is for this reason I suggest to any aspiring artist to brush on their art history. We may come up with new ideas, but it is still an important part of any artist’s process to understand and study those artists that came before us.

So whether you’re using a paste to build up texture, or just a generous quantity of heavy body paint, remember that a painting isn’t just about the 2D imagery but also about the textural technique involved in the process.