What Is Texture in Art?

The concept of texture within a piece of art is a captivating and multifaceted thing. It adds depth, dimension and emotion to all designs, be they abstract, contemporary or fine art. Whether it's the rugged wooden surface of a sculpture, the intricate brush strokes in a portrait painting or the smoothness of a landscape photograph, the texture is a silent storyteller in the art that speaks to our senses. Let's take a closer look at the effects this has on the observer, the significance of techniques used and how as a whole, it can impact not only the piece we are admiring but our emotions felt while witnessing it.

Understanding Texture In Art

This refers to the tactile quality of the surface of our art and the sensation one may experience when looking at or touching it. If you own or are observing three-dimensional pieces, they will be felt physically; however, in two-dimensional works, we are referring to the visual feeling they portray. This will vary from piece to piece depending on the artist's preferences and the medium they have used when creating the art.

Types Of Texture

There are two primary types: actual and implied. As mentioned previously, this will depend on whether your piece is three-dimensional or two-dimensional and the mediums used.


This is the quality of the surface of your art, in which artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create a piece that, when physically touched, can add to its story. This could come from wood and stone for larger sculptures or thick layered paint and wax for a canvas piece.


This is suggested visually, not physically, when a skilled artist can imply layers and feeling through shadows, highlights, stippling and cross-hatching. When you look at pieces with implied texture, you will see a surface that suggests it feels like stone, silk, or another material however is, in fact, just a smooth canvas.

Most Commonly Used Techniques

Artists can use a plethora of techniques, methods and materials to bring artwork to life with texture, both implied and actual. Some of the most common ones used in art today are


This method involves layering various materials, including paper, paint, fabric and three-dimensional objects, onto a canvas to create a diverse and contemporary piece that tells a unique story.


By applying small dots of colour close together, artists can build the illusion of depth and texture to a design when it is viewed from a distance.

Embossing And Engraving:

These techniques have been 'borrowed' from printmaking and can be used to raise or depress areas of a surface to add a tactile feel and quality to a piece of art


This technique involves the artist scratching away layers of paint and other media to reveal underlying layers. This will result in a visually compelling and intricate design that showcases multiple textures.


With the application of thick layers of paint to a canvas creating a three-dimensional effect, the Impasto technique can stimulate texture from materials to add both vibrancy and depth to a piece of artwork.

The Impact It Has

The emotional, physical and intellectual impact of a piece of art will be affected by the pivotal role of its implied or actual texture. There are many ways this can impact the work we are observing; let's take a closer look at this.

Conveying Emotions:

If an artist wishes to share a specific emotion through their artwork, they can do this through texture. A rough and rugged look will suggest the observer should feel the hardship or struggle behind a piece; however, a smooth and polished design could evoke a feeling of peacefulness and calm.

Engaging With Senses:

A textured piece allows viewers to engage in both a visual sense and an imaginative tactile way. A piece of art that suggests it should be touched can forge a deeper connection with the person looking at it, making their experience more intimate and memorable.

Depth And Dimension:

Using texture is a powerful tool for artists looking to create an illusion of depth in a two-dimensional piece. It allows an artist to transform a flat canvas into a dynamic and visually captivating design.

Narrative And Storytelling:

The texture of your piece, be that abstract, fine art or realism, can help to tell its story. A vintage painting with chipped paint and a rusted appearance will convey the age of the piece and the journey it may have taken. However, if you wish to imply sadness behind a portrait, adding an implied texture to a facial expression or emotion will express this best.

Texture in art is more than a visual element; it is a storytelling tactic that engages our senses, evokes emotions and ensures an artist can communicate a narrative. It allows the creator to connect with the observer as they invite us to interpret our own take on the pieces and explore not only with our eyes but our other senses too.
As you explore and discover more about the world of art, take a moment to appreciate the implied and actual textures you see bringing each design to life.

Whether you are an art enthusiast, a creator or are simply looking for a new textured print to add to your living room, the textures in pieces we see, own and create allow us to build a better understanding and appreciation for the stories behind them.