How to Paint a Textured Canvas

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Impasto involves applying paint thickly to a canvas to create texture.
Impasto involves applying paint thickly to a canvas to create texture. (Image: Impasto painting image by Levon Arakelian from Fotolia.com)

Painters such as Van Gogh and Monet are famous for their textured canvas paintings. They created texture by applying thick layers of paint in different ways. The technique is called “impasto,” and gives an extra dimension to a canvas painting. Oil paint is the traditional medium for impasto techniques, as the paint dries slowly and allows for thick layering. Modern-day acrylic paint is also suitable for impasto painting, and a good medium for beginners, as it is a water-based paint and easy to work with.

Things You'll Need

  • Primed canvas
  • Acrylic or oil paint
  • Brushes of different sizes
  • Pencil with eraser
  • Foil
  • Plastic bag

Mix a medium with your paint to make it thicker. You can find several kinds at your local art store. Some mediums will create a chunky, sandy or lumpy consistency for even more texture. These mediums not only thicken the paint, but also make your paint go further.

Choose a flat bristle brush to create a textured background layer of paint. Choose a background color and apply the paint freely, using cross-hatch strokes. Leave the first layer to dry and apply more layers of paint while leaving gaps to allow lower layers to show.

Use a palette knife and paint with the flat of the knife, spreading the paint thickly onto the canvas like butter.

Mix some fine sand, sawdust or even pine needles with the paint to create a very grainy texture.

Apply thick layers of paint and press a crinkled plastic bag or piece of foil against it to create different textures. Use a sponge for a finer texture.

Cover the flat part of the brush thickly with paint and dab it onto the canvas. Vary this technique with flowing strokes.

Use the tip of the palette knife or the back end of a brush or pencil to scratch in the wet paint and create sharp edges to the texture.

References

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