We are on week six of the decorating techniques series and we are talking: modern and artistic textured painting.
The use of texture within design has become increasingly popular over the last few years. There are many reasons why, but personally I think the main reason is authenticity. Authenticity? That's an odd reason for a design element to become popular – isn't it? I'll explain...
It seems to me that more and more people are leaning towards wanting greater quality in their purchases, expecting honesty and transparency in their customer service, and turning away from pristine 'perfection' in the search for something more 'real'. What might appear as just a roughly applied icing in cake decorating, for example, can actually (whether consciously or subconsciously I'm not sure) suggest something more meaningful – it can give a feel of honest artistry, hand-crafted skill, and natural authenticity.
That all sounded a bit more philosophical and deep than I intended...let's move on...
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE EXAMPLES
FLOWERS. Painting flowers using textured paint can really bring them alive. It, quite literally, adds another dimension to the design. From the realistic to the more abstract, painted textured flowers can add wonderful personality to a cake. Blossom with textured petals can feel gorgeously romantic and artistic – and, when paired with watercolour painting and wafer paper flowers, can feel incredibly style focused and modern. Lavender heads detailed with textured paint feel more nature-inspired and creative – and, when teamed with subtle metallics and artistic detailing, the texture can make an otherwise very traditional flower feel modern.
ABSTRACT. Usually applied in a slightly rough, more natural, feel – abstract textured paintings give so much depth and interest to a design. This technique crosses over into 'royal icing textures' (which I will cover in week 9) but the predominant difference is the way in which it is created. A textured painting – as I refer to it – is applied in stroke like motions, instead of trying to cover larger areas in any one application. It doesn't necessarily have to be applied with a paintbrush (palette knives and small spatulas are often used) but it does have defined strokes - almost like you would expect to see with an oil painting or heavily applied acrylics.
Abstract painted textures are very style focused and modern – but to balance them and prevent them becoming too 'trendy' or unrefined, they work well paired with delicate wafer paper flowers, and artistic piping.
WHERE TO START?
My first tip is the type of 'paint'. Different cake artists have different preferences when it comes to creating textured paints. A very popular choice is butter-icing but I personally prefer royal icing – for a few reasons. I cover my cakes in a layer of sugar-paste, and sometimes royal icing, but I don't cover my cakes in butter-icing – so it doesn't make sense to then apply a butter-icing paint. Royal icing starts off white (as opposed to the yellow/creamy tone of butter-icing) which gives you greater control when mixing with food colour; and it is also more stable than butter-icing, helping prevent any potential issues occurring from summer heat.
My next tip is what to practice first – and this is a technique that does require practice to produce pleasing results. Simple, more abstract, flowers and leaves are probably the easiest subject for beginners. Forget about trying to make them realistic in detail and instead focus on the overall shape and feel. Once you start to get the hang of it you could then get more adventurous with your strokes and perhaps add in extra layers – and with further progression start to combine with other techniques such as water colour painting or piping.
Textured painting is both forgiving and tricky to master in equal measure. Once you grasp the technique it's fun to push the boundaries, but it can take time to move past the plain 'messy' stage. When combined with other carefully considered techniques, however, a talented cake designer and artist can really create something modern and artistic.