Creating Texture with Acrylic Paint [Impasto]

As part of the GCSE Art course I am teaching, my Y10 class have already explored a range of mark-making techniques to use on their landscape project. Whilst still mark-making, I have filed Impasto under ‘creating texture’ as the aim of this lesson was to show students how thick, heavy, tactile surfaces are just as important on paintings as the marks made.

I started with a demonstration. The materials I needed were: A paint palette, thick brush, water pot, acrylic paint, pva glue, heavy stock paper.

  1. Select two colours (complementary work best, or a shade and a tint. I went with dark blue and white)
  2. On your palette have an area for PVA glue, an area for one colour and a separate area for the other colour
  3. Use your thick brush to scoop up as much of the first colour as possible
  4. Scoop up as much of the second colour as possible without brushing onto the paper
  5. Then brush both colours onto the paper

This is a relatively simple technique but can easily go wrong if you mix the paint on the paper too much. You should be able to see the brush strokes, and create a marbled effect with the two contrasting colours.

I added PVA to some scoops of paint and this sets with a sheen, it also helps to thicken the acrylic paint.

Here are some outcomes by the pupils, what do you think?

Acrylic impasto technique various black whiteAcrylic impasto techniqueAcrylic impasto technique red yellowAcrylic impasto technique various3 coloursAcrylic impasto technique 4 colours

I was really pleased with the way these turned out as pupils were restrained enough to stop when they had painted a few strokes. The brush strokes are clearly visible, and the colours work well together. As a challenge, see if some pupils can create tone or use more than two colours without the paint looking messy.

I also used a palette knife as an extension. This can scoop up the paint but doesn’t spread it on the paper like a brush, it gives a different finish which some of my pupils have used on their final canvas paintings:

Impasto landscape techniqueImpasto landscape technique

Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

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