Textures with Kalyani- EP1

The previous series ‘Colours with Kalyani’ covered an important and vast topic of “Colours” and we had a lot to unpack on the subject. As we understand and study the five basic elements of design, we move on to the second- texture. 
In a general sense, ‘texture’ refers to surface characteristics and appearances of an object recognized by the size, shape, density, arrangement and proportion of its parts. Some common ways to describe textures include smooth or rough, soft or hard, coarse or fine, and matte or glossy. 
Similar to colour, all objects possess texture, which is essentially present everywhere. It is defined by two main aspects: tactile and visual qualities. ‘Tactile’ refers to how a surface feels when touched while ‘visual’ refers to the impression that it leaves on an observer. This is also stimulated by the colour orientation and intensity of the image.


fur- tactile texture

Dog fur to depict tactile quality


metal grid visual texture

Drawing of a metal grid- visual texture


We use our five basic human senses i.e., touch, smell, sight, sound and taste to perceive texture. The different combinations and intensities in which we apply these senses eventually form our perception of the world. This also has psychological associations. For example, we know that touching a thorny bush will hurt us, so we refrain.


thorny bush

Thorny bush


audio wave

sound waves as auditory texture

The natural world has an abundance of texture which can be a great source of inspiration for us. We find ourselves responding to these textures on a regular basis; be it the smoothness of a leaf or the roughness of tree bark. 

Walking on grass, rolling a pinecone in between your hands, observing the clouds in the sky or looking closely at moss on rocks are all examples that give one a sense of texture. The first two are tangible (they can be held and touched), while the latter two are implied (they can be experienced mentally). The ‘Function’’ of the texture is also quite important in identifying what the object is, its depth and dimension, and depicting spatial orientation.


texture on a leaf

texture on a leaf- tangible texture


moss on tree bark

moss on tree bark- implied texture


cloud in the sky

cloud in the sky- implied texture

Further, the use of texture can convey a viewpoint that is formal, informal or somewhere in between. What are informal and formal textures? 
A formal texture is characterized by shiny, fine or smooth surfaces like satin and silver and an informal texture could be dull, coarse or heavy like burlap and cement stone. Materials that can be finely carved, moulded or finished may give the feel of formal textures and those that are more difficult to work with give a feel of informal textures. Finishes can be applied to most materials which can alter or change the texture at varying degrees. For example, cotton yarn can be woven into a rough burlap sack or constructed as smooth 


satin fabric

satin fabric- formal texture


Brick wall

Brick wall- informal texture

By recognizing different textures on objects found in both the natural and manmade world, we get a greater understanding of their properties and functions. This not only helps us expand our art practice but also solves design problems. Join me as we discover the world of textures in upcoming issues

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