How to Create Textures With Acrylic Paint

By Marissa Poulson
You can add texture to acrylic paints by adding texture mediums to the paint.

There are many different ways to add texture to acrylic paint. Whether you use something store-bought from the art store like a gel texture medium, change the tools you work with and how you use them or get creative and come up with your own textures with materials from around the house, you can add all kinds of texture to acrylic paints in order to add additional interest and depth to an acrylic painting.

Change your application tool. Instead of using a traditional paintbrush to apply your acrylic paint, consider using a different application tool such as a sponge or palette knife to create texture. Using a palette knife allows you to layer blocks or streaks of color, while you can dab both small and large amounts of paint with a sponge to achieve a different texture. Additional texture application tools you can use include bubble wrap, crumbled plastic wrap and a metal brush.

Play with different strokes. Different strokes that can add texture to your acrylics as your apply them to the canvas include crisscrossing; scumbling, or applying the paint in different directions; stippling, or dotting the paint on the canvas; and dry brushing without any water. Additionally, simply choosing not to blend your brushstrokes completely or at all will immediately create texture.

Add a texture medium. There are a variety of texture mediums on the market, which you can find in most art stores. With some mediums, like a heavy gel medium, add the medium to your acrylic paint before applying it to the canvas. Another option with certain texture mediums like modeling paste or gesso is to apply the medium to the canvas, wait for it to dry, and then paint over it with your acrylic paints.

Apply and cover other materials using gesso. Gesso is a paint primer, but it also makes the perfect glue to apply other materials to a canvas. For example, you can take an everyday material such as sugar, pencil shavings, seeds, beads, strips of paper or even fabric, and glue it to the canvas using gesso. When it dries, add more gesso on top of the material so it is completely covered. Once the second layer of gesso dries, you can apply your acrylic paints on top of it to give it the look of textured paint.

Tip

Always keep in mind that acrylics dry very quickly. This can be helpful when you want to create layers of color, but if you need more time to achieve the texture you are looking for, consider adding a retarder, which will slow the drying time of the paint.

About the Author

Marissa Poulson has been a freelance journalist since 2009. Her arts and entertainment reviews can be found in The Examiner. Poulson holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from Arizona State University.