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Applying Paint to a Textured Surface for Abstract Acrylic Painting

Updated on April 18, 2017
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Marian (aka Azure11) has been working as a professional artist since 2006 and has sold over 600 paintings in that time.

Creating a Textured Base

If you have read my previous article on creating your own homemade texture then you will have already started to create your textured paste to use in this painting style. Once you have mixed up your texture (or you could use gesso but I find this is not thick enough for the texture base that I want to create), apply it with a spatula, trowel, cake slice, or whatever else you can get hold of. Make marks and patterns in the texture with either homemade items (e.g. cardboard cut into spikes), or items bought from hardware or homeware shops. Try to make the patterns random and think about the rule of thirds or the golden mean for places to put strategic large pieces of interesting texture.

The texture should be left to dry for 24 hours or longer if heavy or thick texture is used.

Some implements that I use to apply the texture and make marks in it.
Some implements that I use to apply the texture and make marks in it.
Part way through the painting I have applied a few layers of paint and also used a sponge to wipe some paint away.
Part way through the painting I have applied a few layers of paint and also used a sponge to wipe some paint away.

Ways to Apply the Acrylic Paint

Once the texture is dry, the key I think to a good abstract textured painting is to apply many layers of paint. There are a number of methods of applying acrylic painting and some of them are as follows:

  • I always apply a first layer of slightly watered down cream or white paint to the textured canvas to cover everything evenly and give a base coat to start working on. Make sure this layer is dry before starting anything else and make sure you get into all the cracks and crevices.
  • The second layer i apply is a layer of very watery acrylic paint (practically only coloured water). I will apply a dark colour that will go with my planned colour scheme (or burnt umber that will go with everything). When this layer is still wet, use a wet sponge to gently take off some of the paint that is covering the higher parts of the texture so that that you have some white peaks showing.

After the 2nd layer is dry I will start with some more layers and continue until I think I have done enough. Only you can decide when this is and this may be 3 or even up to 10 layers of paint in different thicknesses. I apply the paint as follows but not necessarily in this order:

  • A layer of blended paint applied neat onto the canvas with different colour blended into each other
  • A layer of very watered down paint that will again get into the cracks and crevices
  • Apply paint straight from the tube with a dry brush. Dry-brushing is a good way to just cover the tops of the texture and allow the paint underneath to show through. you should really have very little paint on the brush
  • Apply paint straight out of the tube with a roller. This should also only get the top levels of the texture.

Keep alternating with applying the paint in different ways - sometimes when the paint is still wet I will apply a damp sponge to take off some of the excess. You can also use sandpaper in a similar manner to get back to the base coat but only use it lightly.

Finally I will apply a wash of burnt umber to finish the whole painting off - very watery and sponge some of it off at the same time as applying it.

I will then varnish the painting with a heavy gloss to bring out the colours.


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      OrlyVilla 2 weeks ago

      Nice and very helpful. Thanks

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Enjoyed reading your article!

    • Azure11 profile image

      Marian L 6 years ago from UK

      Hi Helmut, thanks for your comment. I would recommend using lots of layers of watered down paint but leaving them to dry in between. Then maybe use some slightly thicker paint but rub it off with a cloth or tissue before it has completely dried and that will enable some of the colour below to show. Keep using lots of layers like this and you can get great effects. If it gets too dark dry brush on a small amount of white (hardly any paint on the brush) and layer colours on top again.

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      Helmut Krackie 6 years ago

      I am looking to build up color layers slowly until I get good pigmentation while at the same time have very little paint on the the canvas. Similar to working with oils by scraping the pigment off and then he paint. Any suggestions?

    • Azure11 profile image

      Marian L 6 years ago from UK

      Sorry for the delay in replying cardelean but thanks for your comment and glad you enjoyed the hub :-)

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Interesting. I don't know much about creating paintings, thanks for sharing.