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How to Add Incredibly Thick Texture to your Acrylic Paintings

Artists who sell original work will (in a sense) always be competing with the seemingly inexhaustible print market. Luckily for us, discriminating collectors appreciate the unique surfaces that signify a work is an original.

That’s the main reason why I like to give my paintings a lot of texture: so everyone can immediately see that they’re originals.

The following paragraphs explain my three-step technique for adding unbelievable, thickly painted texture to any acrylic painting. There’s only one secret—the texture comes first.

Creating the texture

After drawing out a basic sketch of flowers on my canvas, I mixed together equal amounts of acrylic heavy gel and acrylic modeling paste. Then, following the lines I’d drawn, I sculpted the petals, flower centers, and leaves with a small palette knife.

Texture on Canvas

(NOTE: If you want a more abstract texture, here’s a great technique for applying modeling paste with paper.)

Painting over the texture

After drying for about two hours my textured flowers were ready to paint.

I like to paint quickly, use really vivid colors for my poppies, such as Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Orange, and Napthol Red, with deeper tones of Bordeaux Red and Violet for the shadowed areas.

Painted over Texture

Working fast isn’t a problem because the texture allows me to correct any errors easily in the last step. I don’t usually find that a lot of detail is necessary, but simply let the texture (and vivid colors) do the work.

Glazing the painting for contrast

Once the paint was completely dry again, it was time to glaze.

I covered the entire canvas with watered-down burnt umber, then quickly lifted it off with a damp paper towel. This process allows the burnt umber to stay in the valleys and around the edges of the flowers while being removed from the raised petals.

Glazing with Burnt Umber

It’s amazing how a simple glazing technique over thick, acrylic medium can really make those flowers pop off the canvas. And after a final touch up to emphasize the edges of the petals, this painting was ready for its protective varnishing.

The finished textured painting

Here’s the final piece—you can see there’s more to it than the other photos showed!

Finished Flowers

Remember, no matter what subject matter you like to paint it’s very easy to add texture and drama to your art using this three-step process.

To find out more about Carol’s highly textural paintings, visit her painting blog or website at CarolNelsonFineArt.com.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

I had such a fantastic time at Desmond O'Hagan's three day workshop in June of 2007, that I thought I'd write down a short review of the event: First off, Desmond paints in both soft pastels and oils, so his techniques work in either medium. However, most of the participants in this workshop were pastel artists, and it was put on by the . . . read more

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