Oh My Gouache!

Do you know what happens when I get bored? I mess around with my art supplies and I come up with new ideas. Do you know what happens when I get a new idea? It usually involves me spending money…on art supplies! Actually it ends up with me delving into a new medium or making some project, So here it is… I have been working on my watercolor skills, and I had some gouache laying around. I thought about it for a while. I know what gouache is but I don’t know how to use it. How does it work? What applications do artist’s use the medium for? So I took to YouTube to see how other Artist’s use gouache. I’m feeling inspired!

Butter to Tea Gouache Exercise

Essentially, gouache is opaque watercolor. However, it behaves differently than watercolor. Gouache’s consistency is rather thick. Because gouache is water soluble, adding water will take the paint from opaque to transparent. Also, after the paint is dry if you paint over it with a different color, the wet brush activates the previous layer of paint and well, it gets muddy. Gouache when dry has a very matte finish. It kinda reminds me of tempera paint without the egg smell. Now that I have an idea how the paint behaves and how it works it’s time to paint.

I thought I would do some simple exercises to get started and get a feel for the paint. I saw this video on YouTube about the consistency of gouache. This exercise was called Butter to Tea. What you do is make five squares on your paper. From left to right, label them in order: Tea, Coffee, Milk, Cream and Butter. How does this work? Start with the box labeled Butter. Butter is gouache right out of the tube or very thick. Cream, will have a little bit of water on the brush. As you move toward the Tea box, you are adding more water to the gouache. When you are done your boxes should look transparent to opaque. I thought this was a great exercise especially if you are not used to the opaqueness of gouache.

Self-Portrait (not really, not even close)

I did play with the gouache and I will share my first attempt with you, I must say I finally understand why artists’ are drawn to this medium. The matte finish of the paint lends itself to render flat images. For example, Fauvism, an art movement in Paris in the early 20th century. It reminds me of the flat shapes and colors used in the Fauvism painting, Looking at art from Matisse, Braque, Chagall, and even Paul Cezanne, I could see them being rendered in gouache. I just had an “Ah-ha” moment! Hum…. Perhaps a Fauvism inspired painting is in my future, or yours?

I really enjoyed playing with gouache. I thought I wasn’t going to like this medium at first but after painting with it for awhile I really enjoyed it. Here are some things I learned about gouache, first if you mix a color make plenty of that color because it dries quickly and the chance of remaking that color is next to impossible. Two, sometimes using pigment straight from the tube makes for less of a headache. Finally, using the right consistency (tea-butter) helps when laying down the paint. I’m sure I will come up with more tips and tricks as I explore this medium.

Comments? Questions? Leave a note Bring art and creativity into your day, everyday. Remember, “Creativity Happens in All Mediums”.

Artfully yours,


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