What is Texture in Art and How to Use It Effectively

Texture in Art

Texture is one of the seven elements of art that can make your artwork more engaging and realistic. It’s all about how things feel or look – whether they’re smooth, rough, bumpy, or fuzzy. Texture can add depth, dimension, and emotion to your art, depending on how you use it.

In this article, let’s explore the different types of texture in art, check out examples from various styles, and get some tips on using texture effectively.

Types of Texture in Art

There are two main types of texture in art: visual texture and physical texture.

Visual Texture

Visual texture tricks your eyes into seeing texture in art. Artists use techniques like brushstrokes, lines, patterns, and colors to create this illusion. It can make a flat surface seem deep or give a sense of movement. For instance, short, choppy brushstrokes suggest roughness, while smooth, blended ones suggest smoothness.

Visual texture also adds interest by using different textures to highlight areas. Smooth textures can contrast with rough ones, and fine textures can contrast with coarse ones.

Physical Texture

Physical texture is the actual texture you can see and touch, like paint, paper, metal, clay, or everyday objects. It adds realism and a tactile sensation to your artwork. Thick, impasto paint creates ridges, while collage adds layers and shapes.

Physical texture brings variety and harmony. Different textures can create balance and unity, using similar textures for harmony or different ones for variety.

Examples of Texture in Art

Texture in art appears in various styles, from realism to abstract. Let’s look at some examples.

Vincent van Gogh – The Starry Night

The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

Van Gogh’s The Starry Night uses visual texture. He used thick, swirling brushstrokes to convey his emotions, creating contrast between the smooth sky and the rough landscape, giving a sense of movement.

Pablo Picasso – Guernica

Mural of Piscasso's Guernica
Mural of Piscasso’s Guernica

Picasso’s Guernica showcases physical texture. Collage, paint, and charcoal create a complex texture reflecting the chaos of the Spanish Civil War. It contrasts realistic and abstract elements, adding depth to the composition.

Anselm Kiefer – The Order of Angels

The Order of Angels by Anselm

Kiefer’s The Order of Angels displays both visual and physical texture. He uses paint, straw, lead, and glass to create a rich texture, evoking themes of history, memory, and spirituality. It contrasts light and dark, offering a sense of scale.

How to Use Texture in Art Effectively

Now that you know about types and examples of texture in art, here are some tips and resources to use texture effectively:

  • Try different materials and techniques for various textures – paint, paper, metal, clay, or everyday objects for physical texture, and brushstrokes, lines, patterns, and colors for visual texture.
  • Consider the mood and atmosphere you want in your artwork. Use smooth textures for calmness, rough textures for tension, fine textures for delicacy, and coarse textures for boldness.
  • Think about your artwork’s composition and balance. Use similar textures for harmony, different textures for variety, contrasting textures for emphasis, and complementary textures for unity.
  • Learn from master artists. Visit museums, galleries, or online platforms to see examples of texture in art from different styles and movements.
  • Watch tutorials and videos on how to use texture in art. Find resources online, like this blog post on the seven elements of art or this YouTube video by Alphonso Dunn on creating texture in art.


Texture is a powerful element of art that makes your artwork engaging and realistic. It adds depth, dimension, and emotion. Visual and physical texture can be created with various materials and techniques. Examples from different styles and movements show how artists use texture to enhance their message. Use these tips and resources to effectively incorporate texture into your own artwork.

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