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This “Art Smart” series was created for people who love learning about art in bite-sized pieces. Using these articles, you can learn together as a family and explore art-related topics with engaging information and useful online resources that are practical and fun! In this first mini-series we are exploring the “Elements of Art,” which are the "building blocks" of art. This is the vocabulary we use to describe works of art. In our first article we explored “Color”, then last month we talked about “Value”.

This month I will get a little "touchy-feely" about art as I strive to illustrate the concept of “texture.” Texture is the tactile quality of the surface of an object--how it feels if touched. We tend to think of art as something just to look at, but many artists design their work to stimulate our other senses as well. Sculptors, fabric and texture artists, bookmakers, ceramicists, and artists working in many other forms spend a great deal of time and thought on how to engage our sense of touch, even when a piece of art is not intended to be handled.


Our world is brimming with textures that we can experience. Imagine the feeling of crisp cotton sheets as you throw them back when you arise out of bed in the morning, your bare feet as you move across the polished wood floor, or the feeling of warm water splashing against your skin in the shower. Clothes can also provide us with an array of textures to experience: silky, starched, velvety, coarse, elastic. Looking out the window can also provide a variety of textures, in the leaves of the old oak tree and its gnarly bark, the aging brick on the building across the street, and the gleaming, polished surface of a car; all have unique textures. Even breakfast is rich with textures: fluffy scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, and melted butter dripping off of crunchy toast or pancakes. These mental images provide an illustration of the variety of textures present in our daily lives that artists endeavor to convey for us in their works of art. 


“Actual” texture refers to the tactile qualities of the natural surface of the object. In other words, how does the surface of the work feel when you touch it?  "Implied" textures cannot actually be felt; by seeing a picture, the viewer must use their imagination to understand what the object feels like in real life, such as a man's scruffy beard, sharp metal spikes on a helmet or a kitten's soft coat.


Using the online resources provided below you will be “feeling” more confident about using texture in your upcoming art projects.

Texture Learning Resources:

1.     One of my all-time favorite online art teachers is Cassie Stevens. In the video link below, Cassie does a brilliant job of exemplifying the concepts of "actual" and "implied" textures. Included in the video is a practical art project lesson on texture that you can do at home with commonly found objects and supplies. 

  1. After you have a firm grasp on what texture is, and have accomplished Cassie's cool "Texture Relief" project, you can move on to an additional texture adventure with our friends at "Hands on Crafts for Kids". There, you will have the opportunity to make some texture-rich, drawings using familiar household objects. 



Texture in visual arts can make us laugh, cry, think, and see things in ways we never have before. It can provoke us, or inspire us. Join me here next month when we find out more about the multi-dimensions of "Form", until then you can reach me at Iloveteachingyourkids@gmail.com