Exercise: Preparing a textured ground

I prepared two textured grounds

(i)  Rock pool


Rock pool – textured paper, silver foil, wood, collaged paper, acrylic paint


My first ground had subtle texture created by gluing small bits of splintered wood from  a wooden baking tray that came with a Charlie Bighams chicken risotto (delicious) and then pasting over some inexpensive handmade paper with lots of threads and texture in it. I added some crinkly silver foil.


Rockpool detail

An underpainting with blocks of colour was sanded away in parts  to reveal more of the outlines of the textured elements – this was particularly effective over the wood. Then I pulled the same colours as the underpainting across using a credit card to break up the  edges. By this point it was looking a bit ‘samey’ – so I photographed, adjusted colour and printed  the picture,  and cut shapes to form shadows ovwe. Then I put a layer of PVA glue over the the whole thing. Painting over aluminium foil and then trying to scrape away to reveal some silver didn’t work but use of the foil was a good way to get wrinkly texture.

Verdict:  Experimental, fun, the texture is subtle but there. Overall the painting does say rock pool and I feel the underlying texture contributes to that.

(2) Flotsam and jetsam

flotsam-jetsam-painted final-low-res

Flotsam and Jetsam – wood, sea sponge, gesso on textured paper – over painted with acrylic.


For my second ground I went a bit mad and used the textured paper, much larger pieces of wood from the risotto tray, sliced up pieces of natural sponge,  and a few pieces from large pine cone. I was thinking frothing waves with wreckage bobbing about.



Flotsam and Jetsam detail

Frankly it’s a miracle that the various items stayed put as they were quite heavy. The sponge soaked up the glue, and together with the layer of gesso took 3 days to dry. This is more a relief sculpture than a textured ground but I did enjoy creating it.

At one point it looked like a primary school show and tell table with items arranged neatly. I used a big brush and pulled stripes of paint across several objects in order to break up the outlines. This gave a livelier feel and helped to pull the parts together. With my tutor’s advice in my mind, I avoided outlining the objects but instead painted across them.

Work in progress:


With a coating of gesso


Primary school ‘show and tell’ stage













Verdict: More flotsam and jetsam  in a rock pool than a frothy ocean. Perhaps in need of a focal point ? Actually the detail makes a better picture as the entire thing has too much going on without enough variation.

I can see myself using these techniques but I would aim to keep it subtle as in the Rock Pool painting. The texture needs to be an integral part of the painting and contribute in some meaningful way… it does seem to help to create atmosphere and a sense of being part of a scene. I should think it might be wise to avoid being too literal in what is used e.g. the sea sponse in Flotsam and Jetsam.





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