Using Texture

Firstly, I experimented with producing textures of different kinds by dropping ink onto wet paper. embossing the surface of the paper and using very fine ink lines. I then tried shading, banding and building up layers of tone to suggest depth and holes, as in a sponge. The results are shown here:

Using texture 1
Using texture 2










Frottage is a technique first developed by Max Ernst. An example of his work using this technique is Forest and Sun (1931) . I carried out the frottage exercise using a variety of natural and man-made surfaces around the home. I used a 9B graphite crayon and standard printing paper. Here are the results:

Frottage 1
Frottage 2
Frottage 4
Frottage 3



















One interesting outcome was the abstract patterns that can arise from moving the paper while rubbing the surface. An example is shown in “Frottage 2”, above.

Since doing this exercise, I have become more aware of surfaces and their potential in drawings, particularly natural surfaces, such as different varieties of melons… Canteloupe melons have an interesting random open lattice structure across their surface.

Å related technique, grattage uses paint which is scraped over a surface under which objects have been placed. Max Ernst also worked with grattage, an example of which is Forest and Dove (1927).

The next step was to assemble natural materials with a variety of textures and to represent these by dropping ink, etc, i.e. to use techniques other than pure pencil tone. The pictures below shows the set up (burned wood rescued from a bonfire, a cockle shell, plane bark and a fir cone) and several different drawings of these materials.

First drawing: colours unrealistic but interesting...
Second drawing: colours more muted

The initial drawing used Derwent Inktense pencils but the choice of colours was unnatural and too vivid, although the outcome was quite interesting…

The next drawing involved more closely matching the Inktense pencils to the subject. The colours used were madder brown, baked earth, tan, leaf green, with neutral grey to intensify shadows, and a few specks of brighter fern green to add brightness here and there. I shaved fragments off them with a craft knife, dampened shapes on the paper with a brush and dropped these fragments onto the damp paper. I repeated this exercise with slightly different results before a final drawing using a fine black pen and more sweeping marks to indicate the contours of the wood, which was quite smooth having lost its bark. The lines do follow the rounded edges of the wood quite well. I also like the fir cones in these pictures – their form has been suggested mainly by dropping pigment sparingly on to wet paper.

Final drawing: Ink line and wash drawing

Here are some other, earlier drawings illustrating texture in different ways. The first is of twigs, bark and leaves gathered in the forest, drawn in black ink with purple ink wash:

Twigs, bark & leaves - black ink with purple wash

The next two are of the same still life, one drawn using an eraser and a red Conte pencil in a ground of Rotelpulver or red pigment. The second is drawn in a graphite powder ground.

Still life: bottle, bowl, glass (graphite & charcoal)
Still life: bottle, bowl, glass (red conte)











I am quite pleased with the texture of the draped fabric in the first, graphite, image. The fabric was an old sheet so not quite as reflective as the drawing suggests but I’m pleased with the way in which the folds are represented, particularly in the lower half of the drawing.

The folds are less pronounced in the red crayon drawing because the surface of the paper was more textured.

Another drawing of natural materials (bark, a dried artichoke, a pine cone, a shell) executed with black ink and a neutral mauve wash.

Still life: Artichoke, shell, bark, pine cone


At the moment, I am using a Wasserpinsel (a brush with a water tank which I fill with very dilute ink) which I apply over black ink drawings. Sometimes the black ink is Tusche (india ink) and sometimes it is Tinte (water-soluble).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s