textured acrylic painting mauve abstract landscape

Adventures in textureland

My winter getaway this year didn’t involve slopes or sand, but rather a spur-of-the-moment trip to the art supply store and a bit (?!) of a splurge on materials I hadn’t tried before: cold wax to mix with oils, and heavy body gels and modelling paste for acrylics.

I swapped my paint brushes for palette knives, canvases for wood panels, and smooth brushstrokes for sculpted marks. Tunes on, deep breath ... what's the worst that could happen? Make a mess and waste a few days? Maybe, but testing and trying new things is very much part of my creative process. So I took time away from my regular painting schedule to experiment, to play, (to make a mess) and to learn what I liked/didn't about this texture thing.

Read on as I share my personal experience of an adventure in textureland. 

The key takeaway is how much I learned: what I like in my work and enjoy about my process, the importance of paying attention to intuition, and staying true to my creative voice no matter the material I'm using.

textured acrylic painting magenta paint mix with palette knife

I discovered quickly how beautifully soothing and addictive it is to simply mix texture mediums into paint. The dense smooth feeling of heavy-bodied paint is gorgeous! Think thick, butter frosting and you'll know exactly what I mean. (I had to resist the impulse to taste some of the cold wax after mixing it into the oil paint - it looked so creamy! Even though I’m quite sure it doesn't taste as delicious as it looks).

textured acrylic painting periwinkle paint mixture

After hours spent practising using a palette knife, I found that it was MUCH harder than I expected. I'm so intuitively comfortable with a brush that it was frustrating to not be able to move around the surface making varying marks and strokes with the same ease.

The other significant realization was that as someone who needs to feel an underlying sense of peace and calm and order in her work, the texture + colour + scene/object was just too busy for my brain and for my liking. I needed to simplify my approach to these pieces.

In the end, I decided that I wanted the texture itself to be the star of the show. Composition, colour, and ideas needed to be simple and take a quiet, supporting role. Keep the texture, lose the chaos.

textured acrylic painting close up rainbow stripes

With that in mind, and focusing on fast-drying pastes and acrylics, things started to come together. Layers upon layers of material went down - smoothing out, building up, carving lines, leaving blobs, creating shapes ...this is where the real fun was - watching the surface mould and change before my eyes, watching for the moment that it all felt right without mucking it up. Something else I learned was just how difficult it is to try to fix just one little thing without affecting the whole.

Take a look at the final pieces here!

All in all, it was a super worthwhile detour into the world of textured mediums, but a detour it was. One that I'll revisit at some point because I have a specific idea to explore (and materials to use up) but it's time to get back to painting, to my brushes and the development of my spring landscape collection, already underway!