Texture workshop – me talking to the group, photo by John

Teaching art part 5 – Texture

Using a variety of materials to create different effects

Every painting I’ve seen produced as a result of the classes we’ve taught here has been very smooth – paint is played down in a very even, flat style. Some are blended and some are more graphic but the paint is no thicker either way. Perhaps this is partly down to conservation of materials. I thought it would be interesting to shake things up a bit, to get the students to try using some different materials to produce a variety of textures in their work.

I collected a variety of different materials from outside. Using substances that were immediately to hand seemed more relevant than bringing in anything from outside the prison. I collected different grades of sand – some fairly fine and some mixed. I also took some dried leaves, fallen flowers and a couple of palette knives.

There were a large quantity of small canvas covered boards to use as samples. To begin with I did a demonstration of a variety of techniques. I showed them different possible ways of using the palette knife to apply paint and scratch back into it. We used acrylic paint mixed with the different grades of sand, we also glued plain sand down in a pattern to be painted afterward. I took the same approach with some of the leaves, gluing them down and mixing them with paint. These samples were then allowed to dry so that we could work back into them later. We discussed different approaches to building up texture in layers, different materials that would be used both to apply the paint and to stick down before being painted. It was a fun session and the students carried on making samples for a while afterward.

Later on I came back and took a relatively dry brush with a contrasting colour of paint and worked into some of the samples. The mixed grade sand blended into the acrylic in particular was very successful. The second layer of paint added to it and gave a really interesting effect.

As a demonstration later that day I completed a small painting using only a palette knife, three primaries and white in oil paints. This was a bit of a challenge for me as I am not at all used to using a palette knife or working with one in such a small scale but I had fun with it anyway.

Texture workshop – sand glued to canvas

Texture workshop – trying out different materials


sand mixed with paint

oil painting of the view from the door. Made with palette knife, 3 primaries and white paint.