Impasto brushwork refers to paint applied in a thick and bold fashion with clearly visible strokes.
Here are some of the benefits of impasto brushwork:
The increased texture can enhance the illusion of a three-dimensional representation.
You can also create some interesting effects by building up paint in an impasto fashion, such as:
- The impasto area of paint will create areas of actual shadow on the painting depending on the light source. This gives another element to your painting and can really add some depth depending on how it is used.
- The protruding areas of paint will be more visible from side angles.
- You could use the impasto technique to give the illusion of distance, with close areas being more built up and distant areas being more smooth and soft.
- By using impasto brushwork, you can help guide the viewer as you please around the painting using directional lines. These do not have to be obvious and could be something as simple as subtle lines in trees directed toward your focal point.
Impasto brushwork is a key feature of my painting, Lush Greens, Rainy Day. You can see the painting, along with a few closeups, below.
Impasto brushwork applies more so to oils and, to a lesser extent, acrylics than other traditional mediums. That’s because these mediums allow you to build up a thick texture on the surface.
How do you use an impasto technique? Well simple really. You just make sure you load up your brush with lots of paint and spread it liberally on the canvas. Alternatively, the palette knife is a fantastic tool for making thick strokes and intense colors unmatched by the paintbrush.
You can use the impasto technique in combination with other theories to really enhance your painting. For example, you can make the foreground in your painting really jump out at the viewer by using the impasto technique to build up paint and using warm colors to give a sense of activity and closeness.
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