29 February 2012

learning gouache technique

Gouache is SO DIFFERENT from watercolor! It dries darker than when wet instead of lighter, light colors can be added on top of dark colors, and the colors are so much richer, they almost pop off the page if done right.

As I wrote on this journal page, I had planned on spending some time learning better how to use gouache in January. But an after-Christmas head cold stopped me dead-in-my-tracks. Then it just kept getting put off . . .
Now I am finally starting to go through this excellent teaching series from Sandy Williams. I decided to do the exercises in my regular journal to keep them all together in one place.

I do question my own timing though. I am still taking some watercolor classes on Thursday nights, tomorrow I begin taking Cathy 'Kate' Johnson's Strathmore class, and life is generally pretty busy. We shall see how much I actually accomplish . . .


  1. like your little flower sketches! How does Gouache feel? The same as watercolor, or is it thicker in consistency like Acrylic... or somewhere in between? Which do you prefer? I'm tempted to give it a whirl..

  2. Very nice. I love that flower. I tend to use Acrylic over Watercolors for more color or to use white. I am so used to Oils I tend to forget sometimes to start light then go dark with watercolors. Would using Gouache be better over watercolors?

  3. Jenny, gouache's consistency is the same as watercolor: that is, it depends on how much water you add to the paint. If you use a lot of water, it is almost as transparent as watercolor, but most of the time, you'd want to mix it to a consistency of heavy cream I think. I've never worked in oils or acrylics, but I've been told that gouache is worked the same way but without all the solvents or turning "plasticky". I prefer watercolors at the moment because I know them better, but definitely like what gouache can do.

    Cris, I know nothing about acrylics or oils -- have not heard of combining acrylics with watercolor before. But if I were combining them, I would probably use gouache instead of acrylic -- they are more similar in nature. I have used white gouache over watercolor in the past, before trying to paint with gouache.

    Whether to use gouache or watercolor depends on the subject or the effect you are after. For example, spring flowers make me think of transparent watercolors but on toned paper gouache would capture them better. Or the wild ginger blossoms Kate once found when we were sketching in the woods -- the colors were rich and earthy and deep --- gouache would have been great for that, though Kate nailed it in watercolor.

  4. Are you taking the online course she offers or fortunate to live close by for actual workshop with the artist? I too am interested in learning more about this medium. I have a set and haven't used them much.

  5. I bought two of the DVDs Sandy offers on her web site. You can purchase the DVDs or a download version from her site:

    My plan was to go through the gouache teaching in January and February, before beginning Cathy 'Kate' Johnson's Strathmore on-line class in March. But here I am doing both at the same time . . .


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