Texture In Art

Texture is all around us. Everything we touch has a texture, or feels a certain way. Texture is one of the elements of art, or the ingredients that go into a work of art. Texture can be actual or it can be implied. Some textures are pleasant, like the soft fur of a bunny. Some textures are irritating, like the scratchy tag inside the collar of a shirt. Texture is one of my favorite elements of art because we can do so much with it!

Of course not all artwork has actual texture. In a two dimensional work of art like a drawing, or painting, texture is usually implied, rather than actual. Implied texture is kind of like an optical illusion created to make things in a drawing or painting look like how they would feel. To create a fluffy texture an artist could use actual texture and include materials that are actually fluffy like cotton or tissue paper, or they could imply a fluffy texture, creating an illusion of fluffiness by using wavy or bumpy lines to convey the idea of a fluffiness. Whether texture is actual or implied, it’s a lot of fun to include when making art.

Textures can be mushy, soft, grainy, rigid, puffy, sticky, rough and so on. We can make art using materials that have wonderful textures such as fabrics, clay, feathers, glitter, sequins, sand, foil, bubble wrap, yarn, cardboard, plastic, felt, buttons, pipe cleaners, and beads, to name a few. Some people have aversions to certain kinds of textures. For example, I do not like the texture of chalk, at all. Sometimes when I am using clay the chalky texture that clay develops as it dries irritates my sense of touch. If you are like me, don’t worry, there are different types of molding materials that are similar to clay with textures that you may find to be more appealing, like polymer clay, Model Magic, Play Doh and Silly Putty.

We all know that clay can be molded to take on different forms, but clay is also supremely excellent at taking on impressions. A fun activity my students always enjoy is creating different textures on the surface of clay. You can impress textures on clay using different fabrics, small plastic toys, like dinosaurs or unicorns, sticks, seashells, flowers, bubble wrap, whatever you have around the house! You could even have a scavenger hunt for different kinds of textures, or take a nature walk and collect textured objects.

Another great texture that offers a multitude of possibilities is that of sand. Sand is grainy and gritty and it comes in a wide variety of colors and you can even find it in your own backyard. A project that my students enjoyed making was a two dimensional sandcastle using actual sand. For this project, my students drew a sandcastle on a piece of canvas board. Canvas board is good and sturdy and very affordable, but any thick paper or cardboard will work. Next they painted the ocean, sky and beach background around their castles. Once the paint was dry, students painted glue inside of their sandcastle drawings. Finally, they poured white sand onto their canvas boards completely covering their sandcastles so that the sand would stick to the glue. The results were impressive!

Sandpaper is a fun textured material for another project that my students enjoyed. For this project they were considering the texture of sharks. Did you know that a shark’s skin is covered in tiny, hard, toothlike structures that give their skin a sandpaper like texture? For this project students were given a square of sandpaper and using a crayon they colored it whatever color they wanted their shark to be, because of course in art, sharks can be any color we like! Next, students flipped the sandpaper over and drew the outline of a shark on the smooth surface of the back of the sandpaper. Then, students cut their sharks out and glued them onto blue construction paper. They added googly eyes and completed the project by filling in the blue sea background with whatever else they wanted to add.

Of course you can have fun with implied texture too. If your child has an aversion to actual textures, they can still enjoy creating artwork using implied textures. I found a delightful digital art website that allows anyone to create sand art without having to touch sand. This website allows you to create an abstract work of art by layering colored sand. You can choose any color and the sand seems as if it is pouring from your computer mouse. To get there visit and click “Play Now”.