What's this texture thing?

People say they love the texture in my work. And I love creating it. So, here's a bit more about what how I play with texture and why it's an evolving feature in my work.

^ Wash away my fears: a mixed media and acrylic work with many layers to create raised textures and replicate the transparency of water

Q: What do you use to create texture?

A: Paint! Most of my textured creations are pure paint. I have experimented with modelling and texture pastes in the past but these typically dry flatter than I'd like them to. Occasionally, I add other materials like sand or gloss gel.

Q: What kind of paint do you use?

A: If it's very textured, it's probably oil paint. My acrylic creations are textured too but not as dimensional because acrylic paint doesn't have the same body as oil so most of the texture disappears as they painting dries. 

Q: Why do you explore texture in both media? 

A: Oil has more body and physicality. I like to push this quality and play with the sculptural potential of the paint. It's a very tactile process. For some subjects, I prefer acrylic because it introduces a different atmospheric quality. Acrylic is more transparent than oil. Plus some acrylic colours are more opaque than others. The variations in opacity introduce opportunities to layer textures in ways that retain some evidence of the layers beneath. Regardless of medium, the way I make the mark is essential to exploring texture. The differences in the materiality of acrylic and oil mean you end up with different kinds of textures.

^ Full-bodied summer: the body of the oil paint creates dimensionality in the petals

Q: How do you make different marks?

A: It's a combination of the tools you use and the movement in how you apply the paper. So the gesture and speed of painting has a big influence on the sense of texture. This is partly why music and dancing is a key part of my process. And why I need lots of space around me. It can get messy!

Q: What tools are you using?

A: I use traditional tools like paint brushes and palette knives. I paint with my fingers a lot. And I have a varied collection of upcycled odds and ends that I use to create different kinds of marks. 

Q: What sorts of upcycled gadgets do you use?

A: The sorts of random things that you accumulate and would normally sit in the drawer of useful stuff that it seems wasteful to throw away. Elastic bands, flexible wires (like beading wire), plastic cutlery, tubes and lids, pins, incense sticks, fabric, whatever seems to be lying around my studio.

^ Pure: my dress-maker's pin is ideal for getting the movement of ocean spray

Q: Which of those are your favourite?

A: Definitely my big dressmaker's pin. And all the flexible applicators. Anything that holds its shape too firmly is used less often than the things that have a bit of give and are less predictable to use.

Q: What kind of paint brushes do you like best?

A: I love all paint brushes and can never have enough. I particularly like flat and filbert brushes. Different brushes create different textures and its fun to explore what different brushes can introduce and achieve. I use DIY brushes as well as artist brushes. 

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