What is Texture in Art?

By The Arty Teacher - June 3, 2023

Texture refers to the surface quality of an object or artwork, which can be either real or implied.

The elements of art, which include texture, colour, line, tone/values, shape, form and space, are essential components of creating visually engaging and captivating artwork. One of the most appealing elements of art is texture, which adds depth, complexity, and interest to a piece.

Real Texture

Real texture is the physical surface quality of an object, such as the rough bark of a tree, the smooth surface of a glass vase, or the bumpy texture of a knit scarf. Artists can create real texture in their work by using a variety of materials, such as paint, clay, fabric, and collage. By manipulating these materials and creating textures, artists can add depth and dimension to their work.

The sculpture below by Peter Randall Page is an example of real texture. If you felt the sculpture, you would be able to feel all the bumps that you can see.

Sculpture by Peter Randall-Page in Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Yorkshire, U.K.

Implied Texture

Implied texture, on the other hand, is the illusion of texture created through visual cues. Artists can create implied texture using shading, cross-hatching, and stippling techniques. For example, an artist may use shading to create the illusion of wrinkles on a person’s face, or cross-hatching to create the impression of fur on an animal.

British artist and illustrator Kate Wyatt creates artworks inspired by British wildlife. Wyatt uses a range of lines and marks to create the appearance of the water vole’s fur.

Kate Wyatt Artist
Aelle Watervole by © Kate Wyatt.

Texture Artists

Texture is an important element of art because it can add richness and complexity to a piece. Many artists make texture an important element in their work. I’ve got a useful Pinterest board on Texture in Landscapes and a list of texture artists on my Artists Listed by Theme page.

Exploring texture with our students is a wonderful excuse to experiment with exciting materials. This might be through creating interesting textural surfaces to work on or using Modroc to create texture on a canvas before painting it, or drawing implied texture.

Popular Texture Art Lessons

Texture Worksheet
Texture Worksheet
Drawing Texture
Drawing Texture
Texture Wall Hanging
Texture Wall Hanging Unit of Work
Real and Implied Texture
Real and Implied Texture

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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