Share This Post

Impasto!

Magenta and yellow paint blobs on a palette
Small painting of clouds, hills and grass

Realistic effects are part of the impasto mistique.

The third acrylics class was just like a food network show. We gathered round to see the making of modeling paste “recipes,” then we saw an impasto demonstration, and then it was time for us to try it for ourselves. Impasto is the application of thick paint to a surface. This can be done in a variety of ways with acrylic, thanks to the many applications of this medium and  to all of the additives in the market.

We worked from simple references, mixing colors first on the palette, then applying the thick paste with a palette knife onto primed cardboard.

A student's arms and hands hold a brush and a palette knife.

A student gets ready to apply impasto with a palette knife.

Woman's hands applying thick paint with palette knife.

Several acrylic additives give paint a thicker texture.

People like impasto because it visually reminds viewers of the very physical nature of paint while simultaneously creating an illusion. It gives you the opportunity to work with paint that is easier to control. Application with a palette knife does not require so much skill and some even say is more ergonomic than holding a brush. For people with arthritis, it is physically easier to spread heavy paint on a surface than to beat paint into a canvas.

I advised everyone to get the largest surface they could bring to class. Something we all discover sooner or later is that impasto call for a large palette or mixing surface. It is also more comfortable to use larger gestures to apply paint, and to be able to tilt the easel. Some people get rid of the easel altogether and use a table.

Share This Post

Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez avatar

Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez is the author of these posts and the instructor at Rebeca’s Art Classes. She completed her BFA at the University of Puerto Rico and moved to SF seeking to complete an MFA. She did her graduate studies in education instead but continued painting. Later she served as program administrator in a couple of non-profits, After a position as Deputy Director of the Richmond Art Center, she is now painting and teaching full-time and loving it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>