Every painter uses paint in a unique way. Using thick paint on an artwork can create many different effects on a canvas or other artistic base material. Thick paint, combined with color and technique, brings visual impact or mood as envisioned by the artist.
Create Textured Effects
Gesso -- a glue-like hardening material used to thicken paint -- or full-bodied paint or thickener like impasto creates thick, textured effects in a painting. Thick paint is applied with palette knives, various size or shape brushes, hard-tooth combs or other improvised tools. The artist working with thick paint can create swirls, peaks and valleys and many other visual textures to convey physical depth.
Bond with Textural Elements
Many painters use thick paint as a medium to add other physical textural elements into their artwork. Artists can add sand, string, twigs, fabric, paper, metallic flakes or other materials to thick paint, using the paint as a colorful bonding agent. These techniques allow artists to transform their paintings from flat illustrations or simple landscapes, for example, to three-dimensional works.
Create Visual Layers of Depth
Instead of applying paint in one thick, single-color layer, the artist can apply multiple thin coats of paint for a gradual buildup in thickness. The raised area on the canvas provides rich visual depth. For example, starting with a dark color on the bottom and progressively applying lighter and lighter layers of paint, an artist can create remarkably realistic areas of light and shadow. This technique was perfected by the Old Masters.
Although some painters never admit it, thick paint can cover a mistake or imperfection on an artwork. Indeed, some painters actually paint over an entire work with thick brush strokes or palette knife sweeps. Without actually scratching off the thick paint, you would never know that beneath the layers is a totally different concept abandoned by an artist who did not want to waste a good canvas.
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