Cape Shore Nov. 1961.
you try
design team

Age 9-11
Between the Lines

Texture refers to how the surface of something may feel if you were to touch it.

How many different ways can you feel texture? Tactile texture is texture you feel, with your fingertips or toes, your elbows and even your nose. Can you use your tongue to feel texture? You sure can! Imagine feeling with your tongue, the texture of corn on the cob or the skin of a kiwi fruit. Is it possible to use your eyes to feel texture too?

Visual texture refers to texture you use your eyes to feel. Imitated texture, a type of visual texture, appears in photographs in magazines or in books. It imitates the texture of a real object. Try to imagine other types of texture like audio texture.
Let's look at Surf Clam, a watercolor painting made by Christopher Pratt in 1959. Use your eyes to feel how many visual textures are in Surf Clam.
Surf Clam
What parts of the shell look smooth? Where are the rigid or rough parts? Is it possible to know if this shell has sharp edges just by looking at it? How would you describe the texture of the support on which the shell is resting?
Surf Clam detailEven though we cannot touch this shell, Christopher Pratt gives us clues that tell us how this shell might feel. He uses lines and patterns of lines to give the shell ridges and grooves that we can imagine would feel rough and sharp.
Surf Clam detail The middle section of the shell looks as though it would have a smooth texture. Christopher's use of colour gives it this smooth effect. He uses patterned lines to illustrate where the rough parts of the shell begin.

Why do you think Christopher chose to paint some parts of the shell and left other parts plain white? Do the white parts make your eyes feel something different compared to how they feel when they look at the coloured parts? Why do you think Christopher would paint the smooth middle part of the shell more than one colour?

The difference in colour explains to the viewer that the shape of the shell's surface is not flat like the sheet of paper on which Christopher has painted. The coloured parts represent shadow, where the shell has gentle curves and indentations.
Do you know what direction the light is coming from in the painting? Judging by the shadows and the plain white parts, the light is entering the picture from the left hand side. Christopher has made the parts of the shell where the light is hitting directly, bright white.

Look again at the larger photo of the painting and search for other clues that Christopher gives to illustrate from which direction the light is falling on the clamshell.
Surf Clam detail Another clue is the shadow that falls behind the shell (on the viewer's right side). Take a closer look at the dark flecks of paint in the shadow. What do these dark flecks tell us of the texture of the background surface?

The dark flecks make the surface of the background support look porous compared to the shell's smooth white middle. What do you think the porous surface is that Christopher has laid the shell on? It could be a big flat rock, partially submerged in shallow water. Perhaps it is a wooden shelf. He displays shells and rocks he collects from his travels on a studio shelf.

Have you ever wondered why people collect objects like shells and buttons and stamps? Think about the objects you collect. Did you find them on a beach or the street? Do you consider them junk or treasure? What is it about the objects you have collected that makes them interesting to look at, touch or smell?


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