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All About That Texture: 3 Mediums For Effortless Abstract Painting Effects

I know that my style is nothing like the late, great Bob Ross, but I’ve been known to paint along with Bob when I break out the oils. Incidentally, I feel like a lot of Bob’s lessons and mottoes can be extended to other styles of painting. He taught me to let the brush do the work—a vast departure from the very controlled portraits I was painting (usually with very small brushes). That lesson has stuck with me, but for my abstract style, it’s about letting the texture do the work. So let’s talk about texture! Later posts will delve deeper into my experiments with different types of texture (both 2D and 3D). Today, I’ll go over some of my essential mediums for making texture and why I love them.

Ya know, I don’t even remember why I first bought this stuff. It was before I fully got into abstract painting. Whatever the reason, I’m so glad I did! Absorbent Ground holds paint differently than a gessoed canvas (it’s more absorbent—go figure!) and has been monumental for effortlessly adding interest to my paintings. It’s perfect for wash and staining effects. Sometimes, I’ll use Absorbent Ground in the first layer of a new painting (usually applied with a brush). Other times, I’ll sandwich the white, opaque Absorbent Ground between layers of color (usually applied with a palette knife). I’ve tinted Absorbent Ground with color, thinned it with water, you name it! It’s an extremely versatile medium, and one I always keep in stock.

Yellow, red, and white abstract painting

See those darker swoops? That's the absorbent ground holding the dark wash differently than the gessoed canvas.

Satin Glazing Liquid has been another staple since the beginning of my abstract journey. I love layering thin washes of color, but sometimes a watery wash just doesn’t give me enough control. That’s where Satin Glazing Liquid comes in. I can apply a transparent layer of color that has a little more meat than a water-diluted wash. It stays where I put it unless otherwise manipulated. Through experimentation, I’ve found different ways of dissolving my glazes to produce different 2D textures. I can’t tell you how many bottles of this stuff I’ve gone through.

Black and red abstract painting

In this painting, I used black and red glazes over a dark wash.

It’s crazy how much lighter this stuff is than GOLDEN Molding Paste (in weight, not color). All of the Molding Paste varieties hold their shape, so they're great for building 3D texture. I like to lay Light Molding Paste down on the canvas with a palette knife as if I’m frosting a cake. Like the Absorbent Ground, it’ll often be my first layer on a fresh canvas. Light Molding Paste is opaque, absorbent, and dries matte. And since I like playing with the absorptivity of my surface, I’ll often layer Light Molding Paste (absorbent) and Molding Paste (non-absorbent) for some effortless effects. Remember, we’re letting the texture do the work. Light Molding Paste can be mixed with paint, which only adds to the incredibly cool effects you can achieve.

For this painting, I layered Molding Paste and Light Molding Paste. Can you tell which is which based on how the paint is held?

What’s your favorite way to make texture? Tell me all about it in the comments!


These are products I truly love and recommend, and I think you might like them, too! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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