INTRODUCTION TO GOUACHE

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Like many of you, I got acquainted with gouache on the internet almost a year ago and was really tempted to try this medium.  I had been using watercolors and poster colours for the longest that I remember and was quite happy working with them until I bought my first set of Winsor and Newton gouache. It was exciting to work with another water-based paint and I have been hooked on to this medium ever since. 

What is gouache?

For all those who don’t know what gouache is, it’s almost like opaque watercolors. A lot of people refer to as something between watercolors and acrylics.

They dry faster than watercolors, are water based and it’s possible to layer one color over another because of their opacity like acrylic paints. 

Difference between Acrylics and Gouache

Acrylics cannot be used again once they dry out. In case of gouache, they get reactivated with water even when they have dried completely.

Gouache is used by different artists in different ways so you might see a difference in their experiences and the way they use it in their artworks too.  It can be layered heavily or watered down to a watercolour consistency. It can be used in so many ways you see, its fun to work with, even the lightest colour can be layered on the darkest colour ( for e.g.. a white on black ) and feels great to paint with. Another good thing about gouache is that it dries super quick and that’s a good news for people like me who lack patience. 

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Gouache artwork #1

This is a light on dark artwork. I painted the background black first with a thick flat brush and layered the lighter colours on the flowers and leaves over it. 


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Gouache artwork #2

Started with painting the leaves with a flat green base first and added the highlights and shadows once the base colour dried. I haven't used too much water to the pigment which is why the greens have come out opaque against a white background. 


What brands to buy and where ? 

I am relatively new to this medium and still haven’t explored a lot of brands that exist. Its mostly been a trial and error. I bought some really cheap brands from Amazon and believe me, I cried. The consistency was bad, the paints weren't opaque and the strokes were too patchy. Those are some signs of not a great gouache brand.

The brands that I use right now are Winsor and Newton and Daler Rowney and would recommend these. They are both great quality gouache paints, smooth and have a similar texture, can be easily combined and used together as well. Both these brands are available on Amazon, they are slightly more expensive than regular paints but worth the investment if you are looking at exploring this medium. They can also be found at Sita Ram stationers in Delhi. 


Paper and brushes to use with gouache

Use a thick watercolour paper instead of a regular paper since they are specifically designed to absorb water and give you a great finish. I use Brustro watercolor paper( 250 and 300GSM, hot pressed and cold pressed  ) and find the texture and the thickness super to work on. This one is pocket friendly and easily available on Amazon. A lot of artists also use Fabriano and Strathmore paper and I have heard some great reviews about them as well. Again, hit Amazon for these.

If you are using gouache or any other water-based paint, make sure you don’t use anything below 200 GSM, the thicker the better, else the paper tends to get flimsy with more water and color layering which you don’t want.

You can begin with some easily available brushes like Faber Castell. They are cheap and great to start with. All kinds of brushes work well with gouache paints depending on the kind of artwork you are working on. For details, use a size 000, you could even chop off some bristles to get a finer brush for super detailed artworks. That’s a great trick if you can’t find a brush fine enough. For base, use a thick round brush, size 2 and above. For backgrounds, use a thick flat brush and less water to avoid patchiness. 


I hope this inspires you to try out gouache or just paint with the paints that you have and get rolling. Gouache is super fun and you’ll love it. Let me know if you have more questions about this medium or share your experiences of you tried gouache in the comment below :)

2 comments

Hey!! This was very helpful. Although I wanted to know if you can mix two gouache colors to obtain a third color or is color mixing not an option with this medium? Thank you! :)

Natasha June 27, 2019

It was very helpful to read all that information. Thanks a lot for sharing.🙂

saumya singh April 29, 2019

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