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The beauty of texture

I have two oil paintings in my home by Ethel Planta. One was done in 1960 based on a sketch from 1964 of Silurian Fault. It is numbered 341 and I cherish it, not only because Ethel was a distant family member but also for her use of colour and texture on the canvas.

I was told that Ethel, like myself, ventured into art in adulthood as a positive outlet for her artistic energy. New to art, she was full of potential but was still discovering her skill and style. She met a well known Holland artist Peter Van den Bracken who noticed her and took a keen interest and saw her talent. She studied under him and developed her own style. While her mentor used thick layers dark paint and contrasted this with the scene’s colours, Ethel chose a lighter and brighter application of oil paint full of colour that like in the painting below glows with light.

Silurian Fault

Oil works very different from watercolour, it can be thinned and layered and blended smoothly for skies and water, and it can be layered on thickly by palate knifes to produce dramatic effects like in the rocks above. Ethel became very talented at using texture to great effect, pulling through the oils to blend touching colours, create ridges, shadows and highlights.


While I have never been to Silurian Falls, this summer we visited an ancient cedar national park and came across a fallen tree. The ripped and frayed trunk of the tree had such beauty in the colours and textures that I took a picture of it and worked to create a painting worthy my experience. This is my fourth attempt at the image, after figuring out how to portray the idea of dimension, I chose to use a blend of blues, greys and browns pigments with heavy granulation in order to give me the texture I needed and the layers of depth and shadow to show the ridges and lines in the wood.

Broken Beauty

In acrylic painting, some texture can be created by creative lines of similar hues of paint, with lightly painted brush strokes creating a the effect of fur. This is great for smooth cat hair like in the painting done by my Uncle Brian hanging on my wall. Now, he will be the first to tell you that this is a paint by number piece, but it still takes effort and precision to get the paint to show off the texture of the cat’s fur.

Brian’s Cat by Brian Dean

I decided to attempt to do a the cat in watercolour using the soft edges and blending options available to me. While I, like my uncle, used a tool to get the proportions correct (in my case an app that projects the image onto my watercolour paper) the painting is not an exact duplicate. While my uncles cat is serene, mine seems to have eaten the canary!

Another fluffy animal that I have been attempting to paint is my co-workers puppy. He is an adorable little guy with a clean short haired face surrounded by a poof of grey, brown and white fuzz. This took me five tries to get something that didn’t mostly look like an exploded poof ball as I tried to create the sense of fuzziness in the right shape and proportion to the rest of the dog. I gave this as a surprise gift to my co-worker after I took this picture and was delighted (and a bit relieved) when she exclaimed her praises and thoughts on the painting. It seems I got it right.

Fuzzy Puppy

There is texture in everything when it comes to painting. The paper textured affects how paint absorbs, moves and reflects the paint colours once dry. The brush I choose can affect my painting, and the paint itself. I recently looked into the number of paints in my collection that “granulate” and discovered that the majority do. This means that my love of wet in wet painting style gives the paints I choose the ability to separate, the heavy pigments sinking and the light ones floating and moving along the path of the water. It gives my paintings beauty and personality - and I love that.

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Nov 19, 2021

Loved the comments and comparisons on oil and watercolours that accompany your paintings. The perspective looking down into the broken Cedar is excellent . I can just imagine how thrilled your friend was to see your painting of her fuzzy puppy. You have a talent that just keeps on coming! :)

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