In Which I Try Out Gouache Part 5

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.

I’m going to wrap up my gouache experience with little images I made with the extra color in my palette. These two are just swishes of color, vaguely landscapish, with no plan but enjoying the colors.

This little picture is another quick sketch with the extra paint but drawing on my immense imaginary population of odd people doing odd things.

I have to say these are among my favorite images from the class.


Now I’ll tell you what I came out with from this class. I looked over my list of goals that I set out in the first post and I think they were all met, maybe in ways I did not expect.

As background, during this time I had been strugggling with some vision issues. Several conditions converged to give me trouble and the variety of doctors I had to visit, specialists covering the cornea, eyelid, and interior of my eye, could not pin down what exactly was causing my problem of double vision in my left eye only, after an infection and a cyst removed from my eyelid by surgery. I was fearful, distracted, and…not seeing well. I had not yet begun to accept what had happened to me and that the outcome was unknown.

And, I didn’t feel much of a connection with the teacher and my fellow students. You might say, well, it was an online class, that is why, but I have taken a lot of online classes and found them rewarding in terms of how the students and teacher made a cohesive group. I do feel my vision issues affected my ability and willingness to participate as well, so maybe my attitude was not as open as it could have been. Whatever it was, sometimes you just don’t find the people you are working with to be a good fit. It’s no one’s fault.

So, these feelings affected the class time and my work. I took that into account in evaluating gouache. I like the chalky bright colors you can achieve. I also like that it works so well on paper.

However, I dislike the feel of the paints as they go on – sticky. I paint in layers, and gouache is not as friendly to that technique as are acrylics. I don’t like the re-wettability of the painted surface, because for me that makes it hard to use with other mediums or in collage. I think gouache requires a different thought process in planning out and handling a picture – and I don’t much like planning, I prefer to make it up as I go.

I’ve come to the conclusion that while I might take it up again later, there are a lot of other mediums I like a whole lot more. In the past, I might have said, Oh, I should give it more time, but my vision problems and well, just the way things have been the last couple of years, now I say, Life is too short to be doing things because you think you should…

So I plan to set aside my gouache paints, but I won’t let them go, and if the urge strikes me, I can get them out and get to work. But they won’t be my first choice to work with, most likely.

I’m glad I did the class and found this out for myself.

Thank you for following along with me on this journey!

21 thoughts on “In Which I Try Out Gouache Part 5

  1. memadtwo

    I do like the landscapes as well. I often find the playing around I do with leftover paint yields the most interesting results.

    But I hope you will look at these again in a few months and see they are much better than you give yourself credit for. (K)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you for your faith in my work. I think that this was not a goodtime for me to be meeting a new medium. Maybe with some time passing you are right, I will like my work better, and…be in a better frame of mind to try gouache again and this time make it mine.

  2. Laura (PA Pict)

    It is always fun to experiment with new things and explore new challenges even if the conclusion is that the new thing is just not for you. I also agree with you that life is too short and time too precious to spend it pursuing things that are not a great fit for you and don’t bring you joy.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I’ll keep the paints. Maybe someday will be a better time. But, right now, I want to do relaxing art, silly art things, like vial dolls and tiny houses. And not struggle with a new path.

  3. Diane

    I agree these are your best with this medium. There is a freeness to them, as if you have come to terms with the limitations of the medium. As always, you have thought out carefully why something does or does not appeal to you. I can see, given the way you work, why this medium would be a bit frustrating. But I am glad you tried it!

  4. Nancy Bell Scott

    “I don’t much like planning, I prefer to make it up as I go.” I know firsthand what you mean by that, and a medium that doesn’t let you continue with your preferred approach definitely should be sent to the back burner. Thanks for taking us along on your journeys!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. its only fairly recently that I decided if I don’t like something i don’t have to keep doing it. Though so many people will urge you to give it more time, or whatever. I think I ended up doinf some decent work with gouache but it comes down to, I don’t like the process of creating it as much as so many others. My time is limited so…gouache has to go to th back of the line. I’m glad I tried it as I’ve always been curious so now I know. That is a worthwhile outcome, I think.

  5. agnesashe

    ‘Enjoying the colours’ is always superb. I have associated gouache with graphic designers for some reason and their controlled approach to work. As you say life is too short to use a medium that doesn’t suit your temperament and style when there’s so many that do.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I have read that gouache reproduces really well for print and digital work because it does not reflect? I could see how that works, I think my own work in gouache looks better on the computer than in person.But, I feel like acrylics do the same job for me, much more easily, than gouache and in the end and as you say, Life is too short!

      1. agnesashe

        That’s interesting about its reproduction qualities. I can see that’s definitely reason why the graphic designers I’ve known were so fond of it.

  6. tiffanyarpdaleo

    I am sorry to learn of your vision problems, that would be very scary, I do hope everything works out for the best. I totally agree with you about gouache, I do love the intensity of the colors but it is difficult to layer, like you said, you really need to plan ahead, which I don’t do either! 😉

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you regarding my eyesight issues. It’s a complicated situation and will take time to sort out and I will be ok, if not the same as before. I am grateful to have a good eye hospital near me. As for gouache, it doea require a certain technique, doesn’t it, but I guess everything does. The question is, does it fit in with the way you like to work, I think!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes, sadly that part about it taking a lifetime, I feel it too. I guess when we are younger we worry much more about others. Now I’d rather just…be. and let it all go as it goes.

  7. Alanna

    I recently completed an online painting class and pretty much came up with the same reaction you did “Life is too short to be doing things because you think you should…”. Great saying!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I have learned that I like online studio classes (or in person studio classes) as a whole. I think I kind of bend them to what I want to be doing, the class provides some insights, plus the discipline for me to show up and get to work, plus the right amount of socializing for me. But, I do have to like the subject! I was happy to try something new here but also I am happy to lay my curiosity about the medium pretty much to rest.

  8. marissthequilter

    It’s been fascinating to ‘accompany’ you on your gouache journey. Your odd people doing odd things is my favourite from the set, but all the works are striking.
    I agree that one should stick to the mediums that give one the most pleasure. (I long ago decided that dyeing fabric was not for me — to messy and unpredictable.)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. You know, I tried dyeing fabric too and could not deal with it for just the reasons you said (though we did tie dye some sheets that came out great).

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