What is Impasto?
Impasto means thick paint. From the Italian ‘impastare’ – to make paste. Using an impasto technique often leaves visible brush strokes in finished paintings.
If your primary goal is to capture the color accurately and learn how to achieve a beautiful color harmony, there is a big advantage to using impasto paint. This is because it forces you to make a clear decision about the color. In addition you get a much better color harmony during the mixing process when you use impasto.
I painted this during the rainy season in the old village of Liujiang in Sichuan, China, sheltered under the roof eaves which fortunately were quite large!
This place was chosen for its interesting patterns created by the colorful umbrellas and of the red lanterns which are a feature of every Chinese town and village. The reflections in the wet pavement served to distribute these colors around the canvas and unify the design. The painting was quite large for a plein air piece, about 60cm by 80cm.
When is impasto used?
You can use different techniques for applying the paint to show the characteristic textures of different objects in your painting.
Here I used thick impasto strokes to convey the feeling of the wet pavement, and also to create the calligraphy on the walls.
On the walls of the wooden buildings I used thin transparent washes of paint layered on top of each other to convey the texture of old wood. This is very similar to a watercolor approach. By varying the type of brushwork you use in your work you open up many more exciting possibilities for your paintings.
Note: To learn more about how you can use brushwork to describe forms and texture, see the Brushwork lessons in Workshop G of the Virtual Art Academy Apprentice Program.
Comments from Barry’s Virtual Art Academy students
The most comprehensive, in depth and well-organized painting course available online
After a thorough research, my personal conclusion is that the Virtual Art Academy (VAA) is, by wide margin, the most comprehensive, in depth and well-organized painting course available in the internet. Unlike most tutorials and color mixing recipes commonly found online, VAA’s philosophy is rather to provide the students with detailed information about all aspects of painting – color theory, brushwork, drawing, composition, techniques, materials – in an organized manner, in a way to allow for short-term improvements while optimizing the learning curve throughout the course. And, while the VAA curriculum, by itself, is already among the most valuable literature about art one can find (both online or offline) – for its depth and comprehensiveness –, the online platform adds a lot more to the learning experience, since the exchange in information and experience with other students is of immense help. Finally, what is most unique about the VAA, in my opinion, is that its creator Barry J. Raybould not only has a successful career as an artist himself – with an economic style and distinguished understanding of color – but he was also able to distill his own knowledge and experience into an accessible and effective method (as can be proven by the works of some of his earlier students). If you are serious about learning art and (as was my case) can’t enroll formal art schools, I would say there’s zero chance you will regret joining the VAA. In fact, I truly believe that, in the centuries to come, people will still learn to paint through Barry’s method.
For More Information
See impasto on Wikipedia
Comments from Barry's Virtual Art Academy students
First quality education, materials, layered learning systems, feedback loop and social support and lifelong learning – amazing
In the last couple of years, I took online painting courses and in-studio classes adding to my university courses from many years ago. After researching Anders Ericsson learning systems and Ultralearning, I was struggling to design my own painting learning plan. Then I discovered the VAA and with the endorsement from Richard Robinson, I jumped in… and it has completely exceeded my expectations. You’ve management to include first quality education, materials, layered learning systems, feedback loop and social support and lifelong learning – amazing.
Thank you again for such an amazing program and opportunity. I wish you continued and even greater success. You have contributed to many many people… thank you from all of us.