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An introduction to Gouache paint.

Gouache - pronounced gwash as in squash. If you would like to know more about the pronouncing of 'the word' Gouache click the link.

Gouache paint is often called 'Designers Gouache' due to it's opaqueness, speed of drying and matt finish, being so necessary for designer, illustrators and commercial artists. It is also often referred to as 'opaque watercolour'

tube of Gouache paint
Image courtesy of Daler Rowney


A good quality Gouache paint is a mix of pigment and Gum Arabic.
Gum Arabic is the binder for the pigment, giving it a creamy 'flow' consistency, cheaper varieties may have chalk added to the pigment and they often 'flow' less than a better quality product.
Gouache can be used thin to give a wash at the start of a painting allowing the thicker layers to be used towards the end.

A star or letter rating gives the permanency of the colours. I would suggest for fine art use 'extremely permanent' and 'permanent' colours.
If you are lacking a permanent colour
in Gouache, try using a permanent watercolour/acrylic colour instead.

Gouache is a quick, direct and amenable medium, with superb covering power.
You don't need to reserve your 'white' as in watercolour; it's more controllable then watercolour and you can remove mistakes and re-paint.
Sable or Synthetic brushes are ideal, bristle brushes if you want more expressive brush marks

Mushroom painted with Gouache
Click the mushroom picture for a larger view.

Gouache painting techniques are usually used on watercolour paper, white or tinted.
You can also use coloured pastel paper or mount board.
I would recommend heavier papers to give a more stable surface for the paint, especially if you like to paint in numerous layers.
They are also best preserved under glass using a mount.

Gouache on tined paper
Gound Ivy on tinted Watercolour paper

Gouache paint is designed to be applied fairly thickly; diluted with too much water and they can 'powder off'; applied in too many thick layers and they have a tendency to crack.
The cracking is due to the under layers, absorbing the water and Gum Arabic out of the newly applied paint, but it only become apparent when dry.
'Less layers are best layers' with Gouache!
I especially like them for small and detailed paintings, give them a try, they can be very rewarding.

New book Gouache Painting Techniques which can be found in our online shop.

Gouache to paint these mushrooms
Click the mushroom picture to see a larger view.

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mushroom painted with gouache on bristol board

In our eShop we carry the Penman Liquid Gouache range of inks, these are ready to use straight from the pot. To find out more about these Gouache inks click the Liquid Gouache or to purchase click the link to go to J and T's Art and Calligraphy.

This small (6" x 4") Gouache painting was completed using the Penman Liquid Gouache inks mentioned above. It was painted on 115 lb Bristol Board, a good surface with a little tooth and easy to work on. I find the Liquid Gouache inks far smoother and easier to work with then traditional Gouache paint, the final finish is also excellent.

I am in the process of putting together a more in-depth article on Gouache painting; covering paper, techniques, styles, hints tips and much more - hoping to complete it within the next two months - June 2009

The above 'in-depth article' turned into a book! Gouache Painting Techniques

All Artwork Jacqui Blackman

This is the Copyright and Intellectual Property of Jacqui Blackman.

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Copyright 1994 Jacqui Blackman. All Rights Reserved Worldwide
The information contained herein is the Intellectual Property of Jacqui Blackman and J. & T. Blackman Ltd
and is supplied without liability for errors or omissions.

 

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