In Which I Try Out Gouache Part 1

Back in October/November I took an online class at a local art center to try out the medium of gouache. In a few posts I’ll show you the work I did and tell you what I learned.

I’ve got a selection of paintings to show you and I can’t remember in what order I did them, so I will arrange them by topic or by the information learned. In other words, I’ll be skipping around! Take a look and see what you think.

My goals in taking this class were:

  1. Satisfy my curiosity about the medium and see if I would be interested in going anywhere with it
  2. Have a scheduled art activity
  3. Evaluate gouache as a means of doing art on a small scale in sketchbooks or in adding color to pen drawings
  4. Evaluate gouache as a means of doing some more “realistic” images in which I work from photos to record scenes from my daily life (as I like to do with my pen sketchbooks)

With these thoughts in mind plus a small set of paints I tuned into the first class. The instructor discussed the nature of gouache paint and the various ways it could be mixed and used. Then we got to work. Without any idea how to proceed, I took a photo, did a quick pencil outline, and painted.

Well, this image took about 15 minutes. I like it and I stored up the watercolory way I went about producing it in my memory files – I thought it might be nice for the aforementioned pencil sketch coloring. But I wanted something more intense from the colors.

Next, I tried this image of our car Jen McGill at the gas station. It went a bit better. I worked on black paper and did not add so much water.

Finally, here’s a view of some Philadelphia townhouses. This one I did on white paper.

Thoughts after the first class? I like painting on black paper much more than on white. The paints seem gluey and sticky to me and I was thrown off by the re-wettable nature of them.

By this I mean, what’s on the paper can be altered by the subsequent addition of anything wet, water or new paint. I’m used to acrylics and to how easily I can build layers on top of each other without changing what’s underneath. In fact, this technique is exactly how I exploit the paints to get the effects I want.

I do like the chalky look of the paint when it is dry.

All right. At the end of the class I had a better idea how things worked, and that was valuable information for the next sessions.

16 thoughts on “In Which I Try Out Gouache Part 1

  1. msjadeli

    I like the looks of each one. The first one looks “watery” which is just right for a water scene. Definitely see the difference between the first and the 2nd two for color saturation.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. The paints behaved differently than I expected (not that I really knew what to expect??!!) but the colors are great. I think for me the whole class was exploration of how the paints worked and they certainly gave me a workout.

      1. msjadeli

        You’re welcome and I understand. When I took the poured acrylic classes it was the same for me. Adding drops of silicon to the paint really changed the properties of it.

  2. Diane

    Thanks for posting this. I have mixed feelings about gouache. Just FYI, I have some POSCA paint markers. They remind me a lot of gouache but of course do not have the re wettable quality that gouache has. Basically, they seem to be the best of both worlds. They are a bit too opaque for me even though I like the colors I have. Anyway, you may want to check out that brand if you are looking for something to add color to pen drawings. They have thick and thin line ones. XO

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      You mention my favorite paint pen, Posca! I have got some in black and white (multiple sizes) and plan to buy some more colors. I use them with acrylics and love them.

  3. agnesashe

    Thanks for your take on gouache. I tried the medium out last year for the first time as I thought the flat, dense quality would be easier for me with my silk painting style than watercolour. Not sure that was the case. I think it’s like everything, well at least for me, I need to come back and back to it on different days. Really love your use on black paper. Will definitely have a go myself. Happy New painting Year to you. 😄

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. Having used both gouache (the little bit I have) and acrylics, I think acrylics are so much easier to use. I’m still trying to figure out what gouache would be good for, with me. I have some more posts to come on this topic (I did a lot of work in this class if nothing else!)

  4. elmediat

    Initially, I read the title as grouch instead of gouache – changes the whole context of the series. 😀

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I am laughing. It would be false advertising for me to say I am trying out grouch. I have long since realized that grouch is a nice thing to have when you need it or sometimes, just when you want to indulge yourself!

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