There are two kinds of texture in art. Both are wonderful. Both deserve consideration. Sometimes both exist together. Sometimes only one or the other is present.
There’s the texture of the things depicted: the soft silk that looks like silk, the lemon that has a rough skin, the egg shell that seems to be brittle because it looks brittle.
Then there’s the texture of the art materials used to make the picture, and they are many. In the illustration above, a detail of one of the koi drawings, the crayon catches on the raised burr of the paper speckling the surface, creating a veil over the imagery below it. It’s these textures of the second kind that I love to discover. Every artists’ medium has a wonderful, special charm.
In the detail above of a crayon drawing made after Matisse’s painting La Coiffure at the National Gallery of Art, the layers of crayon colors overlap. Some of the paper texture breaks up passages of color. In other areas sharp lines delineate forms and soft lines blend one passage into another. Because the pigment can be applied in layers, warm and cool passages of color can interact with each other above and below.
In the pen drawing details above the color of the ink is a strong factor, and equally strong is the white of the paper. In a pen drawing, sometimes what you don’t draw — the shapes of the spaces that you leave blank become dramatic effects in the drawing. Of course the characteristic hatchings and wiggles and calligraphy of pen lines give a pen drawing its essence and its energy.
Pencil drawing is a responsive medium for creating contours with line, for evoking texture through imitation and for creating subtle lights and darks that reveal forms — and in the case of portraits graphite provides the subtle gesture that gives way to visual expressions of emotion.
With pastel you can drag very soft passages of pigment over top of other layers, the layers can partially blend, and through these operations you can achieve very soft transitions and delicate blurry effects.
Whatever the material, each medium has its own peculiar charms that the artist must seek out through manipulation and experiment. Sometimes the natural textural qualities of the medium can be used to evoke the optical textures of the things depicted. Sometimes the beauty of the material’s texture is sought as an end in itself.
Through these limited examples in my own art, I hope readers find another element of drawing that they can use to pull them closer into the magic of pictorial art.