How to Make Textured Canvas Art

by Edward Lincoln

Textured canvas art incorporates a variety of three-dimensional qualities into the creation process. Acrylic media like thickening gel and string gel are combined with paint, among other elements, to give an image a sense of depth and interest beyond the usual two-dimensional quality found in most paintings. Textured pieces tend to be sculptural in nature, as they are greatly influenced by the light and shadow produced by surrounding conditions when on display. Create your own textured work of art by experimenting with media and combining different effects and colors.

Items you will need

  • Newspaper
  • Canvas
  • Palette
  • Acrylic paint
  • Large, flat paintbrush
  • Palette knife
  • Acrylic thickening gel
  • Medium, flat paintbrush
  • Paintbrushes (various sizes)
  • Hair dryer
  • Acrylic string gel
  • Plastic spoon
  • Acrylic sealer
Step 1

Cover a flat work surface with two layers of newspaper. Place your canvas on top of the newspaper layers.

Step 2

Apply a coat of acrylic paint to the canvas surface with a large, flat paintbrush. Allow this layer to dry for approximately 10 minutes.

Step 3

Use a palette knife to combine acrylic thickening gel with an acrylic paint color. Apply this mixture to the surface of the canvas with a medium, flat paintbrush. Alternate the direction of your strokes during the application process by moving up and down and left and right, as well as diagonally. Allow the strokes to mix into each other on the canvas.

Step 4

Create streaks in the textured layer using paintbrushes of varying sizes. Make these streaks less frequent to allow the larger textured layer beneath to show through. Allow the textured layer to set for approximately 15 minutes.

Step 5

Apply heat to the textured layer with a hair dryer once it has set. Use a low setting to dry the paint more gradually.

Step 6

Combine acrylic string gel with an acrylic paint color. Put a portion of the mixture on a plastic spoon and allow it to drip onto the canvas from at least a foot above the surface. Move the spoon over the canvas as the gel drips to create a string-like texture. Allow this layer to set for approximately 15 minutes, then continue drying with a hairdryer.

Step 7

Apply an acrylic sealer to your painting and allow it to dry according to the directions on the package.

Tips & Warnings

  • Incorporate small items into your painting, like beads, leaves, stones and images. Insert them into the textured paint while it is drying to ensure adhesion.
  • Working with acrylic media can be messy. Protect your work surface thoroughly and wear old clothing to prevent stains.


About the Author

Edward Lincoln has been a writer, illustrator and social-media designer since 2008. His work has appeared on Natasha's Art Candy and in "WhateverLife" magazine. He has been awarded by the state of Michigan for artistic achievement and has been featured at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit.