Definition of impasto in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ɪmˈpastəʊ/


[mass noun] Art
1The process or technique of laying on paint or pigment thickly so that it stands out from a surface.
Example sentences
  • In each, he runs a dazzling gamut of painterly techniques: glazing, impasto, scumbling, decalcomania, fluid linear strokes and so on.
  • The landscape background of Elizabeth's portrait in particular is remarkably abstract, using strong colour and thick impasto.
  • Characteristically he painted in thick impasto, mainly with a palette knife and generally in subdued ochre and umber tones.
1.1Paint applied thickly.
Example sentences
  • The common element is colour: he uses layer upon layer of his impasto (oil, gesso and pigment) to create the finished result.
  • As light strikes the painting at an angle, ridges of impasto reveal moments in the history of its making without disclosing what was buried in the process.
  • Some portraits were painted with brushes first, and then a hard tool was used to blend the skin tones and add texture to the thick wax impasto.


Late 18th century: from Italian, from impastare, from im- 'upon' + pasta 'a paste', from late Latin.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: im|pasto

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.