Master paintings

How to rock texture and patterns?

Gold texture and patterns are Gustav Klimt’s (1862 – 1918) trademark. Why does this work so well? 

We don’t want our surroundings to look like a spaceship’s interior, but we don’t like clutter either. Solution: texture and patterns. Klimt did an excellent job. The image of two people kissing is easy to recognize. Also, there is no noise in the backdrop. The scenery is flat or two-dimensional. When a design or image is straightforward and clear, like Klimt’s painting The Kiss. you can enrich the image with texture or patterns.


Texture is the feel of the surface. What makes this painting rich and warm, is the combination of smooth oil paint and gold leaf. The inconsistency of the painted surface is called texture.


Patterns are a repeated rhythm in design. Combining clear design with a pattern is never ‘too much’. Repetition is something people feel comfortable about. Klimt was inspired by the Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau movement for the patterns in this painting.

Best practice

In web design, textures and patterns give a website look more personal. For example, look at this pattern at the homepage of Cafe Frida, Image by Cafe Frida via Canva. Or the wooden texture of The Old Town Spice Shop homepage Image by The Old Town Spice Shop via Awwwards.

Gustav Klimt
The Kiss
oil paint and gold leaf on canvas
180 cm x 180 cm
Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna

This post was originally published on my blog about old master paintings and design: