On Texture

In Digital, Inspiration

I keep coming back to Bryan Peterson’s Learning to See Creatively. One chapter of the book deals with six elements of design: Line, shape, form, texture, pattern and colour. As a way of learning to use these elements, he provides an exercise in which you are supposed to go through eighty of your own images to see which element(s) is the most dominant. The least dominant element, he suggests, is your weakness, and you should go out and shoot images with this element specifically. Even though I have never performed this exercise as such, I have a fair idea of both my strengths and weaknesses in terms of these design elements. I tend to favour lines as a compositional tool more than any of the others, and the one I find the most difficult is texture.

As opposed to the other five elements, texture is a very tactile phenomenon. Our entire sense of touch is based on differences in texture; I know through my fingers that cotton feels differently from silk, that I prefer knitting with woolen yarns to cottons, that a gnarly potato needs peeling and that the bread dough reacts just so when I touch it when it’s done. So why is texture an interesting visual design element? Bryan Peterson suggests that the emotional visual power of texture is due to precisely the fact that texture is everywhere – in our world and in our language – and that texture in a photo ignites the viewer’s “sense of touch”.

So I went looking for textures and found stories.

Stories of something to hold on to on your way.

Stories of being different from the others.

Stories of practicing my craft.

Stories of whimsy.

Stories of being less than perfectly put together.

And stories of love.

˜Jenny Graver.


    • Thank you! Getting personal with texture is such a great way of putting it – it certainly does feel that way.

  1. Jenny- you always make me think and see in a new way. These are gorgeous images- some I wouldn’t have seen the connection to the others without your words. Thank you!

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