Watercolor is not a medium generally associated with texture, but there are a number of things we can do to create physical texture and many ways to create visual texture.
In the example below, visual and physical texture are used. The peeling paint on the window frame, the lattice texture and the texture of brick are all visual textures created by the application of paint to fool the eye into believing there is three dimensional depth in the objects represented. The stucco wall uses a physical texture, built up with watercolor gesso, to reproduce the impression of weathered stucco.
To create the impression of weathered timber lattice, a wash of dirty yellow (Quinacridone Gold, Alizarin Crimson and French Ultramarine Blue) is applied to the entire area of the lattice and allowed to dry
The painting below was done on a full sheet of 600gsm Fabriano paper. To add a more obvious physical texture to the paper, Watercolor Gesso (or absorbent ground) was applied to the paper with rough choppy brush strokes and left to dry. Although subtle it adds an interesting brushed texture to the painting amplifying the weathered patina of the subject.
In the painting below there is no physical texture, but the numerous visual textures add interest and variety to the surface. The sky and foreground are simple smooth washes with no evidence of texture. At the extremities of the painting textures are kept fairly flat, increasing in detail and contrast towards the center of interest around the green door, chimney and bathtub. The only area of apparent texture around the edges of the painting is the intricate patch of chicken wire in the foreground. This serves to draw the eye up and into the center of interest.
Texture is often overlooked as an element in watercolor painting. Making a conscious effort to include it can really add to the interest of a painting. Contrasting areas of texture with areas of flat relief gives the texture more intensity and the painting more impact.
Author: John Lovett