Gouache. Yikes! A little more info than my long ago post.

noun: gouache
  1. a method of painting using opaque pigments ground in water and thickened with a gluelike substance.
    -opaque watercolor of the type used in gouache painting.
    -a picture painted using the gouache method

Gouache isn’t new… it goes back at least 600 years. But until last year I had never heard of it, or at least it didn’t register with me.

I’m trying out the set of Caran D’Ache Gouache paints I got last year, but feeling like I’m all thumbs. It’s so different than watercolor (OR acrylics)…  I have to think and act so contrary to what is natural with watercolor. The good news is, my badness at gouache makes me feel like I’m better at watercolor than I was previously thinking. 😉

Gouache acts like watercolor in that it can be rewet, even years later on the paper or palette, and acts like acrylic in that it is thick and opaque, covering whatever is beneath it. When gouache paint dries there’s generally said to be a considerable color shift, darks drying lighter and lights drying darker, so while the painter can continue adding, changing, or correcting as long as desired, mixed colors can be difficult to match once dried, if a color key or something similar wasn’t prepared. Also, in gouache painting, white can be added on top of darker colors, and different shades are created by adding chinese or titanium white to the paint…  many watercolorists don’t use white paint at all while watercolor painting. (most, I think!) Whites are created by being careful not to apply paint to areas that should remain white, and lighter more translucent colors are made by simply using more water.  So the way you plan out a piece with gouache vs watercolor is considerably different.

People seem to either love gouache or hate it. I hated it last year… but this year I’m hovering. I might be inclined to see its potential and kinda want to spend more time with it.

Here is my first attempt (well, first since my original two attempts a year or so ago) The one on the right is a watercolor from earlier this month, testing the new Schmincke limited edition watercolor set, the one on the left is my attempt to do a similar picture using Caran D’Ache gouache paint pans:

I used the paints kind of like I’d use acrylics. I definitely could do better with that background. Having to add white was messing with my brain. I miss the flow-i-ness and translucence of watercolor here.

Then i tried this, coloring in an ink sketch from January:


A different approach, using the paint as I would watercolor. It’s ok. But… I’m not using the paint as it should be used, really. And I know if I had used actual watercolor paint I’d like the result better. Gouache just doesn’t move. It isn’t made to move.  (also, please ignore the bird coloring… I couldn’t find the picture I took this from and don’t have any idea what colors the bird should be.) So… how to use gouache as gouache??? I’ll need to go back to youtube and watch more videos, and practice practice practice.

Still… I’m liking the medium and think with practice it could be really fun.

Caran d’ache is the only company I could find last year offering gouache PANS as opposed to tubes. Today I bought three M.Graham gouache  tubes to play with and see if tube vs pan makes a difference. (plus I got what I thought was a good deal on a big tube of titanium white gouache, which I can use to add elements to watercolor paintings as well if I want to: stars, highlights, etc) The pans seem to rewet well and become rather creamy, so it isn’t that I’m unhappy with them. Simply unfamiliar with the medium and looking at all possibilities.

Here’s a link to a fairly inexpensive Caran d’Ache pan set, 8 colors… it is currently just under $20.

Also to the set I have:

Caran d’Ache 15 gouache colors…  currently $32, down from a high of $41 in January. They offer the tubes as well for a bit more, but the pans seemed simpler for me to start out with last year, and I’ve since read good things about the company and its products on some online artists’ boards. These rewet really nicely and are rich and creamy. Put a drop of water on each before you begin painting.

And finally, here is an M Graham gouache starter set…  I can’t say whether I like these or not yet, as I haven’t tried mine, but I’ve only read great things about M Graham gouache paints so I’m expecting to like them. I don’t know if this is the best price available, though, for this set. It’s cheaper than what I saw for it today at the art supply store.

Disclaimer: if you purchase something from these links, I get a few cents from Amazon, but it doesn’t increase your cost at all. I ONLY include links for items I enjoy myself and believe to be quality products, at the best price I can find at the time, and will try to remove links for anything I ever decide for some reason isn’t a good product.

Have fun!!


One thought on “Gouache. Yikes! A little more info than my long ago post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s