Oh my Gouache!

La Muerte  / gouache/ August 2016

La Muerte / gouache/ August 2016

It's been two weeks since my last post and yep, I am starting this out with a pun. And not a very good one because some of you might not know that "gouache" is pronounced "gwash"...Ahem,  moving on!

A few years ago at a yard sale, I bought a collapsible easel that came with a huge stash of cheap and crappy gouache paint tubes. Never one for throwing anything away, I kept them to try out someday. So when I mistakenly grabbed a gouache tube to start a new painting, I thought I'd give it a try and it's SO awesome.

Self Portrait  / gouache / July 2016

Self Portrait / gouache / July 2016

So what's so great about gouache? I suppose the best way to answer that is to describe how it differs from watercolor.

  • Gouache is more opaque. I can cover large areas of color quickly with just one layer of paint and even more importantly, cover up my mistakes. YES!!
  • You don't have to work light to dark. With watercolor, you have to be very aware of where your white/light areas are to preserve the luminosity. I forget this all the time and more often than not, wastes time scrubbing out a dark color or resorting to adding highlights with a paint pen. But with gouache, I can work as erratically as I please, and adding a light color on a dark is no problem. 
  • Working wet on wet is a bit more like using acrylic. In the jungle painting below, with each new layer, it pulled up a little of the color to add some tonal variation. You can see it the most in the leopard's left side, where the dark green background started to come through the gold and I used it to my advantage in creating a shadow.
  • Gouache has an amazing chalky texture. It's so velvety  I can't help but touch it for an obscenely long time. 
Jungle Cat  / gouache / July 2016

Jungle Cat / gouache / July 2016

So if you're someone who only has experience with watercolor or has been wanting to get into painting, give gouache a go. It's so forgiving and a hell of a lot less fussy than watercolor, so experimenting is a lot more fun. Try it!

(And FYI, my birthday is coming up next month, so the best gift ever would be some fancy professional quality gouache...!!!)