Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fun with Gouache

I spent some time yesterday playing with gouache paints so that I could see how I liked working with them as a possible candidate for my portable studio. Gouache is a water based medium; basically it is an opaque watercolor. While as an oil painter I wouldn't exactly call it opaque, it is more so than traditional watercolor. I've worked with many different water media before, including gouache, but it has been some time. Here's what I discovered:

My "oops" moments:
  • Some of the colors don't behave at all like either watercolor or oils. In general the gouache colors were somewhat darker and took some experimenting to get the mix I wanted.
  • The paint dries very quickly! In the future I may rethink squeezing out big blobs on my palette all at once (an overzealous oil painter's habit.) If I painted with these outdoors, I'd definitely need a spray bottle or drying retardant to keep my paints moist and fluid while working in the open air.

My "hey, cool!" moments:

  • A very forgiving medium that is easy to work with. Most mistakes can be "lifted off" with water and brush. The opaqueness allows you to paint over certain passages and change the composition (something not so easily done with watercolor.)
  • Versatile- can be mixed with watercolor and pen and ink. Acts as a watercolor for washes, but can also be laid down more opaquely and mixed with white.
  • Easy cleanup. Like watercolor, just a little soap and water does the trick.

Gouache paintings are treated the same as watercolors in terms of care and framing. They should be displayed under glass and kept out of direct sunlight for best longevity. Gouaches tend to like a rigid surface, so a heavy paper or mat board is a good substrate for this medium. Here is a little painting I did of the Provincial countryside:

Jennifer Young; Vibrant Landscapes


Blogger Globetrotter said...

I have begun reading your blog recently because I love to paint. I just began a year ago and am always looking for new tips and help wherever I can. So that's how I found your blog. I have never tried gouache but after reading your post I think I will! It sounds like fun!

I wanted to tell you how much I admire your paintings. Coincidently I painted a picture of a Provencial landscape the other day, too. Mine sucks-yours rocks!

I love your vivid use of color and the subject matter of your paintings. If you ever do a workshop in Southwest Florida, I'd definitely be interested!


9:20 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Jennifer Young- Vibrant Landscapes said...

Hi MaryAnne,
Thanks for the nice comments! I appreciate it, and I am glad to know that there's someone out there in cyberspace checking in on my blog.

The gouache was fun--very different from oils because it dries super fast. But I liked the layering effect you can get, and of course, the vibrant colors.

I'd love to do a plein air landscape workshop down in Florida some time. I'll let you know if I get something cooking. If you have a group of six or more who'd be interested in something like that, do let me know. Take care and keep painting!

Best wishes,

10:27 AM GMT-5  

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