Texture Techniques for Oil Painting


From the great masters of old--like Vermeer and DaVinci--to today's multitude of modern artists, oil painting texture techniques have not changed over the years. By mastering these techniques, you will become an accomplished oil painter. Furthermore, you can even achieve oil textures with modern acrylics. They mimic oil paints well and don't come with e same long drying times or fumes.


  • In this technique, the paint is applied in thick layers and blended with impasto knives. These aren't really knives, but are more like small spatulas. They are inexpensive and readily available at most artist supply stores. They also come in a variety of sizes.

Wash and Glaze

  • A wash is a translucent paint, while a glaze is a transparent paint. When a glaze is painted over another color (that has been allowed to dry), the original color comes through, and a third color is created. When a translucent wash is applied, it partially blocks out the underlying color. Washes and glazes can be used for painting large colored areas, such as sky. To make a wash or a glaze, thin down your paint with thinner to an almost water-like consistency, and use a wide brush to paint swaths. Artist Bill Martin uses washes and glazes in his paintings.


  • To do the stipple technique, leave your paints thick, as if you're doing an impasto. Lightly dip your paint brush into the paint using just the very tips of the bristles or the lower half of the bristles. Then, lightly "hammer" the canvas rapidly with just the tip of your paint brush. This will leave small dots of paint, and you can create many different effects. Bob Ross used this effect when he painted trees. This technique can also be seen in Claude Monet's (a famous painter of the late 1800's) work, entitled "Coquelicots." As with other techniques, practice on scrap canvas to develop your own style.


  • To achieve fading from dark to light areas, make tints and shades. Do the following: Pick a color. This is called your "base color." To make a tint, add in white paint to the base color. This can be done in small varying degrees to suit you tastes. The more white you add in, the lighter the tint, until it becomes almost white. To make a shade, add in black paint to the base color. Again, this can be done in small steps. The more black you add in, the darker the shade, until it becomes almost black. Use the shades and tints in your work to fade in (or blend) from the shadowed areas to the light areas. Take some scrap practice canvas, and experiment with fading from shadow to light.

Combine Techniques

  • By combining techniques, you can create some dramatic effects. For example, you can create a wash sky with a blue tint wash. Then use impasto for the clouds and glaze over them with a shade glaze for darker areas. For flowers or trees, you can stipple on paints, allow to dry, and then glaze over areas you want to accent with another color.

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  • Photo Credit Oil painting image by lefebvre_jonathan from Fotolia.com
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