How to Create Texture in an Acrylic Painting

How to Create Texture in an Acrylic Painting

There are many different materials and techniques for using texture in acrylic paintings. The three materials I like to use the most are gesso, gel medium and modeling paste.

I use thick, creamy gesso as a coating for all of my substrates, whether I am painting on canvas or paper. The gesso creates a great slightly textured base that adds dimension to my paintings.

I use a heavy gel medium on occasion mixed with my paint to help make really thick paint at my centers of interest so they stand out with added thickness. Heavy gel medium can also be used before painting to build up texture on the surface of your substrate.

Flexible modeling paste is the thickest material of these three and can be used to make some really significant texturing on your painting surface. Flexible modeling paste moves with canvas and doesn't crack, no matter how thick you make it. It is really great to use tools to scrape through it, or imprint into it because those marks stay true when it dries.

I've seen folks use all kinds of materials to imprint patterns into their paintings including chair caning, steel screening, bubble wrap, cookie cutters, etc. My advice is to experiment with as many things as you can to see what works for you.

One thing I would caution you on is not to let the texture overpower the rest of the painting. Use texture as one of the many things that help make your work great, but use it in balance with the other design elements.

For those that are interested in a fun and engaging workshop experience, I have some workshops coming up that you will love: (You can see a full list of Workshops by Clicking HERE.)

  • September 11-14, 2017 Pacific Northwest Art School, Whidbey Island, WA. to register contact Lisa Bernhardt, or 360-678-3396. Details HERE.
  • October 13-15, 2017 New Braunfels Art League, New Braunfels, TX. To register contact Sandy Oberg or 210-861-0751. Details HERE.
  • October 20-22, 2017 Lafayette Art Association, Lafayette, LA. to register contact Susan Hamilton or 337-849-6791. This is an Advanced Workshop focusing on developing a series of paintings.
  • November 2-4, 2017 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. To register contact David at or 336-418-3038. This is an Advanced Workshop focusing on developing a series of paintings.

As always, thanks so much for your support! 


P.S. If you're interested in an easy to use color wheel, I now have available my "Simple Color System" on a standard 12-color, color wheel. You can find out more below:

David M. Kessler's "Simple Color System" Color Wheel. Easy to use and understand. The turning pointer tells you the dominant, non-dominant and accent colors to use.  You can find out more HERE - or click on the image.