In Which I Try Out Gouache Part 2

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.

Following one of my stated goals I did several images of people that I came across in daily activities or events.

In approaching a picture in general, I don’t draw out anything in pencil. I just start in. You may remember in the very first image I did in this class (me at the beach) I did use pencil. After that, I reverted to my usual MO and started directly in paint.

In this image, done from a photo taken at the Bryn Mawr (PA) farmers’ market, it worked out well. I was able to capture the scene without going over and over the colors. I did this picture on black paper.

In this picture, of an art event at the Allentown Art Museum, things didn’t go so well. Some parts are fine, but some are caked with paint and overdone. That’s a result of me using my technique of putting paint on the paper until I get what I like. Acrylics are much more forgiving of this than gouache. I like fussing around with the paint, so this is a point to the negative of gouache for me.

I disliked this picture so much that I tore it out of my notebook and cut out various elements to use for collage, throwing the rest away.

This picture is another one from the farmers’ market. It went some better. A lighter and more sure approach made a difference.

This lady is shopping at the farmers’ market. I don’t like this picture at all – I could not get things right in the beginning and I continued to paint more layers. The image is muddy and caked up as a result. I may need to pull this picture out of my notebook and turn its elements into collage.

Lesson learned: I like to layer paint and scrub into the layers hard with my brush. It’s disconcerting to me when those layers combine and decide to come up with their own color. To keep colors clear and bright I need to think ahead rather than forge ahead and see what develops.

14 thoughts on “In Which I Try Out Gouache Part 2

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    I looked at the images before I read the text and found I was really drawn to the first and third art works. It was interesting to read, therefore, that those were the ones you were most happy with and the other two you didn’t like much. I think the colours really pop on that black paper in the first one and I love the way your use of that fuchsia colour leads my eye around the composition. The third one is great because of the way you’ve used the vibrant yellow against the cool blues and I like the way you have handled the light in that composition too.

    I have been dabbling a bit in gouache too but have been using it as a sort of watercolour rather than thick like this. I find that, although I have been assured it is easier to work with than watercolour, I am not finding an approach that works for me – yet. But I have not dabbled enough to be sure.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      You know, I think gouache kind of doesn’t fit anywhere by doing any job the best. Water color beats it out for watery work and I think acrylics are much easier to use for thick layered pieces. Even after this class I think I will try some more of it – but… last but not least, I also don’t like how it’s not waterproof and doesn’t layer well with other material. But…there are more posts coming, maybe they will have more useful info for you, see what you think.

  2. Nancy Bell Scott

    Claudia, I’m wondering if you’ve tried acrylic gouache? I have both kinds and find the acrylic gouache much more satisfying to work with. I use them differently, of course, painting pages for abstract collage (as you know 🙂 instead of making actual paintings, but the acrylics do layer much better. You might well have tried acrylic gouache in the past, but just in case . . .

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you, the ones I have been using are acrylic gouache. I think with more familiarity with them I might be happier with them (once I got used to the re-wetting factor…eek). They may be something that i need to set aside and try later. This fall I was not in the best mental state to be experimenting due to my eye problems and also…I might have found this particular class more constraining, also probably due to my lessened focus. I am also so used to my layering style of painting that dealing with the different way I needed to work frustrated me some. Overall I think maybe these paints areen’t my favorite, but…maybe I was not their favorite, either!!!??

      1. Nancy Bell Scott

        Your explorer spirit makes everything worth trying and is a joy to behold for the rest of us. Gouache really is a kind of in-between medium, as you describe. I began trying it only a year or two ago, and still don’t know what to make of it in the end. Best of wishes for you for 2022!

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          You know, a lot of people are saying the same thing, they don’t know what to make of the medium. I am finding that really interesting (since I think the same thing). Wonder what it is, exactly about it?

  3. margarethallfineart

    Thank you for this interesting post – I’m experimenting with gouache at the moment. And, like you, I have had to learn not to rely on layering too much, to fix mistakes. But, I do love the texture and the chalkiness of the paint. It looks to me as if you are finding your way with them – I love your market scenes.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I’m going to let the medium rest for a while, and try again later. As you will see in subsequent posts I wandered all over with it! I am not sure if my life issues at the time were not distracting me or if gouache is just not for me, but, I am glad I tried it out.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I’m still not sure what I think about even this type of gouache. I think my eye problems made me less patient with something new at this time. Plus, it requires a different way of working than I am used to and I was not maybe prepared for that. I know you are an expert on gouache, I see it in your work! and I will keep what you are saying in mind for the future. I do think one day I will return for another try.

  4. pappeterian

    I liked your bold work. And I agree, collage is a good way to reuse old paintings. I also use some old picture that way, or I go over them with really black ink or coal, or remake them with acrylic color or just cut the best part out. For me that´s a fun and free process playing around with nothing to lose.

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