Texture is the quality of a surface. Although we primarily experience texture through touch, we can also visually experience different textures. This is because our brains relate what we see to the experiences we have had of feeling textures. Textures could be rough, smooth, soft, hard, coarse, fluffy, gritty, grainy, silky, bumpy, velvety or knurly.

Textures appeal to our sense of touch, which can evoke feelings of pleasure, discomfort, or familiarity. Textures add energy.


The illusion of texture can be created through the use of other elements of art such as colour, line, and shape. Texture can be enhanced through the use of brush strokes and palette marks. Sponging, spattering and stippling are also very effective. The surface and quality of the base material and the implements used to apply various media will have differing effects.


A physical texture can be created by adding material or by removing it. Texture is closely related to the material used (leather, marble, wood, clay, bronze, metal, or plaster, for example). The surface treatment offers even more textural possibilities. These include patination (chemically altering the surface of metal), painting, staining, bleaching, varnishing, polishing, waxing, sanding, buffing, scorching, tapping the surface with various tools (distressing), among other things.

Low relief can be added by mixing sand, any types of fibres, gesso, impasto gel or other such thickeners to a painterly media. The thicker the media, the more defined the texture will be.

Examples of material that can be added are paper, leather, wood, clay, textiles, yarns, metals found objects etc.. Additive texture can be created by embellishing, burnishing, embroidering, layering etc.. Texture can be built up with single or multiple layers.

Subtractive texture can be created by scratching, stressing, debossing, burning, bleaching or scraping to reveal lower layers.

Activity: Go on a Texture Walkabout

what to do

1. Outside. Go for a walk and see how many different textures you can find. Take visual notes (quick sketches), rubbings or photographs of what you see. This can help you to not only notice textures but give you ideas for textures that you can incorporate into your own work.

2. Inside. Notice and touch the texture of things in your home, surfaces, fabrics, objects, books, kitchen utensils. Remember how they feel. How could you create some of these surfaces in your work.

Share your images and thoughts about the textures you have found in your portfolio. You could also share your images and thoughts about how you can incorporate Texture into your work.