This is the fourth issue of my Language of Painting series. This post looks at Texture. If you'd like to review part 1 on Color, go HERE and for part 2 on Value, go HERE. For Part 3 Shape, go HERE.
The basic language of painting is its vocabulary. By that I mean those bare bones visual elements that cause us to see images the way we do. Each
of these elements plays a specific role. Successful painting is dependent upon how we cause them to play that role in concert with one another.
I addressed color and value first because all the other elements depend on value and/or color, else we could not see any of the elements performing their roles. The element of
Texture depends totally on the contrast of value.
Contrast means difference. The difference might be tiny or
vast. A close value contrast is two values with a small difference between them. The strongest value contrast is the darkest dark against a lightest light. So to understand what causes texture, we need to see the degrees of value difference.
Visual texture is a pattern of tiny value contrasts. When a shape has none of these value contrasts within it, it is smooth, meaning no texture. In the photo below, the negative space around the fox has
the images out of focus, causing the texture to vanish into smooth areas of value gradations. But the fur of the fox shows tiny patterns of value contrast--textures.
Below I've randomly cloned three areas of the fox's fur. Notice the zillions of tiny value contrasts in the clones and the smoothness of the adjacent blurred version of them. (We see the texture
due to contrast, but we see them as blurred or smoothed due to gradation. More about those two principles in the future.)
Now, notice the differences in the sizes of tiny value contrasts in the two clones at the right of the fox, and how the pattern
changes in the clone on top. Observing the change in size and pattern gives us clues about what we can do with our brushes to create that fur. (As well as grass, leaves, hair, and every texture we see!)
Size is an important element we will look at in my next issue. Pattern is the regular and repeated way in which something happens or is
done. Without pattern, we would not see textures.
So, when working with textures, using the language of painting to communicate their essence, the painter asks: What is the pattern I am looking at? Where are the repetitions and variations of
sizes in that pattern? To what degree do I see the value contrasts causing the pattern?
The miracle of texture's role as a visual element is the power it has when joined with value, color, and shape and the other elements to define the nature of what we
Enjoy a delightful weekend of discovery!
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