Texture Techniques on Black

Inspired by the lights and sights in New York City at night, mixed-media artist Katie Blaine decided to work on a black textured background to capture that exciting look in her paintings.

Art Lesson June 2017

Most artists have their go-to methods and materials for creating texture, involving everything from layering to applying mediums to carving into the surface, and more.
In this Cloth Paper Scissors Art Lesson, Katie uses duct tape to create texture on the base. I was amazed at the results, and decided to give it a try.

I placed duct tape along the edges of the panel, using 3″–4″ pieces and ripping some of the strips in half, so the pieces weren’t all the same width. As Katie suggested, I let some of the pieces pleat and overlap to create more texture.


I applied light molding paste over the entire surface of the panel with a palette knife, being careful to get it in and around the texture areas, and then let it dry. I set up a fan to lessen the drying time, and it worked out very well. I had used a light to medium application of paste, so that helped, too. If you use a thick application, it could take up to 24 hours to dry.


Black gesso was applied with a 1″ brush, making sure all of the texture areas were covered well. Once it dried, I had to touch up a few spots I’d missed.


Layering colors from dark to light, I added oil pastels to the bumpy areas and smudged the colors with my finger. Having chosen one of my photos of a beach sunset for my focal image, I used blues and grey pastels at the top of the black panel, orange and yellow mid-way, and black and gray at the bottom, highlighting several areas with a little white. I then added some dots and swirls with white glue, which would show up as shiny, clear areas once dry.


I decided to glue my photo image to the panel instead of doing a transfer as Katie had done. I printed the photo on copy paper and tore the edges, so they’d blend into the background more easily. Using gel medium, I glued the image to the panel and allowed the gel medium to dry.

I added more oil pastels to highlight some of the raised areas and to blend the colors in the photo into the background.

Metallic blue acrylic paint was applied along the edges of the panel with a dry brush, and here and there throughout the panel.

Blue, yellow, orange, black, and gray PanPastels® were added in the appropriate areas on the photo and on the background (sky, sun set, and the dark area at the bottom) to tie the photo into the background even more. To finish, I sprayed the panel with matte fixative.

The black background created a whole new effect, and the texture from the tape added interesting dimension and depth. What a great way to capture night scenes. I’ve always loved this photo, and I like it even more now.





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