Tactile Texture


Unit 11. Texture

Ex. 1. :

His beard was rough as sandpaper. The lake was smooth as glass. You have probably read and maybe even written descriptions like these. The descriptions are effective because they bring to mind the sense of touch. They remind us of familiar textures. As an art element, textureis how things feel, or look as though they might feel if touched. Like space, texture in art can be tactile, texture that can be touched, or visual. In this lesson, you will learn about the double role of texture as an element.


Imagine the smoothness of mashed potatoes, the brittleness of a wheat cracker. Our sense of touch is always alert to the things around us. It helps us identify them and enjoy their feel. It also helps us avoid unpleasant touch sensations. Such an unpleasant sensation is suggested by the sentence that opens this lesson. Artists take advantage of our experience with textures to enrich their works. How an artist uses texture depends on whether he or she is working in two or three dimensions.

Sculptors, you may recall, work in real space. They also work in real texture. Refer

back to the sculpture in Figure 102 on page 23. How do you think this work would feel to the touch? Contrast that sensation to the one you might get touching the work in Figure 111.This sculpture of a horse is life-size. It is made of mud and tree branches. What words would you use to describe its texture? What do you think it would be like to ride this horse? Sometimes artists use texture to capture visual designs in three dimensions. The sculpture in Figure 113is such a work. Have you ever touched a raised design in fabric? Do you think the clothing worn by this guardian would feel smooth or rough to the touch?


Figure 111

Deborah Butterfield. Horse.1977. Mud and sticks. Life-size.Zolla/Lieberman Gallery,

Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Tactile Texture
  2. Texture
  3. Texture
  4. Visual Texture

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Negative Space | Visual Texture

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