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  • NickBootArt

How Art “Touches” You through Texture

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Figure with Raven

Imagine losing your ability to touch and feel. Touch, like the other senses of sight, hearing, smell and taste, sends information to the brain to help us interpret the world around us. Touch, which can include temperature, pressure, pain and other sensations, is critical to our well-being. Without touch, you could pick up a hot pot and burn yourself or you could slip on ice. Soon after birth, a parent’s touch instills a sense of comfort and safety in a newborn.

When it comes to art, the texture of the piece appeals to our sense of touch. Texture can be physical or visual. We perceive physical texture through our sense of touch. However, visual texture can be equally powerful. The artist achieves visual texture on flat surfaces through the skillful use of various materials and tools. Even though you can’t “feel” visual texture, your eye perceives it just as if it were tactile.

Why texture matters to art

Texture influences our aesthetic experience of an artwork. It contributes to the way that we interact with the piece. Like color, texture can affect our mood. It can influence deeply-rooted personal or psychological connections to the artwork, focus attention on the materials used and draw attention to a particular area or aspect of the piece. Texture can give us a new way of looking at something.

The abstract painter Jackson Pollack used thick layers of paint to “bring attention to the act of painting and to reveal the personality and individual technique of the artist,” writes Ideel Art magazine in “The Importance of Texture in Absract Art.”

Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night is another good example of the use of texture in a two-dimensional piece. Van Gogh uses heavy brushstrokes to give a rough texture to the painting. This texture, in turn, creates contrast between the hills and stars so that they appear distinct from the rest of the work.

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