Creating both tactile and visual textures

Hi lovely artists! It’s Riet here from the Creative Team and today is all about textures. You know exactly what I’m talking about, right? Those wonderful tactile sensations how something feels like when touched. Yep. That’s our theme today.

Imagine a world without textures- it’s impossible!
From the beginning of your day, when you wake up and your bare feet touch the floor, until the night when you head to your bed again and wrap yourself in your bedclothes you felt a pretty amount of textures. Oh, just think about all the joys you get from textures- like the soft wool of your favorite scarf around your neck or the fur of your beloved pet.
But even the things you don’t touch have textures. Think about when you look out of your window, when you see the textures of a tree bark, the brick walls of the buildings across the street, the pavement. You can’t touch it but you can see the layers of texture.

Can you remember what they told you when you went to the museum for the first time as a kid? “Do not touch the artworks.” It’s hard, right? Because textures are interesting, they have depth and it provokes the kid in us who wants to touch it anyway. Good for us we are allowed to keep our hands on our art journal pages as long as we want.

There are two different kinds of textures: Tactile textures and Visual textures.  I’m going to show you how you create both of them.

TACTILE TEXTURES

Tactile textures mean the actual feel of a surface when we touch it. Think of Vincent Van Gogh’s famous artwork “Starry night” and how he built layer upon layer of thick paint with the technique called impasto. Paint might be an expensive method to built tactile texture but you can use nearly everything to create this. Layered collage papers, lace, tissue paper, structure paste (and stencils), strings, etc.

I love to use modeling paste for this.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Modeling/structure paste
  • Toothpick/skewer
  • Sponge brush
  • Watercolours
  • Gesso

1. In case you use thin paper prime it with gesso first and let it dry. Otherwise start by applying the modeling paste with a paint knife or an old credit card. You can play with the amount of paste you use. Apply more on some areas than others. This way you can create different depths.

2. Now take a wooden skewer and start doodling or writing. You can write a bit of your journaling or doodle some easy shapes like I did with the flowers. I pressed the sponge brush into the modeling paste to create a rough texture on some areas. You can use other items from your household and press them into the paste. Lay it on the surface and pull it off right after.

3. Let it dry completely, preferably over night. Once it’s dry start to add paint. I used water colors but you could also use ink, paint mists or other watery paint.

4. I finished the spread with some splatters, a bit of thread and some painted flower embellishments.

ALTERNATIVE

On this page I pressed things down to let them dry in the modeling paste. I used tulle, lace, gauze and a bit of thread. Once everything was dry I added the water color paint. Look around your house and see if you can find things to use in your page.

VISUAL TEXTURES

Visual textures are the illusion of textures. It’s what texture looks like without that we are able to touch it. Think of photographs. The surface is smooth and flat but you can see rough textures. In paintings you’ll see that artists use a lot of light and shadow to create this effect (like for clouds, a rough sea or wrinkled clothes- the canvas is smooth and flat but for us it looks like it has texture).

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Gesso
  • Water
  • Acrylics
  • Cling wrap

1. Depending on your paper thickness prime your pages with gesso first. We are going to use water and it needs to hold it pretty well. I make this as smooth as possible without leaving brush lines, it works best with an old credit card. Wait until the gesso is dry and then coat the paper slightly with water. Then thin down your acrylic paint, just a bit, so it flows better and start to apply the paint. (It’s hard to tell how much water you need because it depends on what acrylics you use. Heavy body needs slightly more water. You want your paint to be a bit deluded but still pigmented. I dab my paint brush into the water without wiping it off and mix it into the paint. )

2. Press the cling wrap down on your page, push and wrinkle it a bit around and wait about 5 minutes. You can do this with water colors, too, but then it needs to be completely dry before you take off the cling wrap. Otherwise the paint will flow right into each other again and you won’t see the effect. I prefer this with acrylic paint as it doesn’t need so much time (a hint of impatience?). The page is flat and smooth but we created the illusion of wrinkles. We can’t feel them but it looks like it has texture.

3. I finished the page with paint splatters and a quote. Obviously the more things you add at this point the more texture you create but you get the idea.

ALTERNATIVE

On this spread I used the same technique but layered the colors. Once one coat was dry I applied another color following the steps above. Altogether I used three different colors and you can see them shining through.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and are inspired to add textures to your pages! I’d love to see anything you create with these techniques. Tag me on Instagram so I won’t miss them!

Riet

Riet lives with her husband near the coast in North Germany where she enjoys capturing her memories and feelings in journals and albums. If she isn’t covered in paint and glue she writes stories or photographs the nature outside her door.

25 Comments

  1. Christie Drahnak

    This looks so fun! Thank you Riet!

    • Riet

      Thank you! I love textures! I think they are so much fun because it connects our senses. You can not only see it but feel it, too! Have a try! 🙂

    • Riet

      Ha! 😀 Once I got 20 metres of pink tulle for my birthday. I never knew what to do with it until I discovered how fun it is to work it into the background!

  2. Karen Price

    Fabulous tutorial Riet! Can’t wait to these techniques!

    • Riet

      Thank you, Karen! I hope you have fun!

  3. Laura Rahuba

    Good tutorial, thanks!

    • Riet

      Thanks, Laura! 🙂

  4. Elizabeth D.

    Can’t wait to try these techniques! Thanks, Riet!

    • Riet

      Yaay, can’t wait to see what you will create, Elizabeth :-*

  5. Emma louise szostok

    Thank you for a wonderful tutorial !!!

    • Riet

      Thank you, Emma! Glad you like it! 🙂

  6. Sasha Zinevych

    I love how you divided texture into tactile and visual. I think it’s a great way to think about what you want to achieve on your page! I don’t have modelling paste, but I have 1 litre of gesso and some new acrylic paints… so, I guess, we all know what I am going to do tomorrow! 😉 I still want to try using fabric for texture in my journal. This idea intrugues me!
    Thank you for an awesome tutorial, Riet!

    • Riet

      Thank you, Sasha!
      Yes- this totally works with gesso, too! 😀 I’m a big fan of textures!
      I can’t wait to see what you will create! Go for it!
      Have fun! xx

  7. Suzanne Earley

    Molding paste is my new favorite thing that I didn’t know I needed in my life until I tried it, LOL

    • Riet

      Haha! You are funny! It’s addictive, I know! 😀

  8. Katie Smith

    love love that last magic page!

    • Riet

      We are kindred spirits, Katie- it’s my favorite, too! Thank you! <3

  9. Gilly Welch

    Some really wonderful ideas here Riet, thank you!

    • Riet

      Thank you, Gilly! Was my pleasure to share them with you! Will you give it a try?
      xx

  10. Lea

    I don’t have gesso – so I’m going to attempt the visual texture on watercolor paper without it. I love your colors. So inspiring. Thanks for the tutorial!

  11. Melody Willoughby

    I used the cling wrap on a page today for texture. Love, Love modeling paste too. Great ideas and such pretty pages!

    • Riet

      Ohh, did it work well, Melody? Did you post it somewhere? I’d love to see it!
      Yes, modeling paste is so versatile! If only there wouldn’t be the dry time 😉
      Thank you so much for your kind words! xx

  12. Rachel Phillips

    Ohhh Riet. I LOVE your pages here!!