Still Don’t Think Gouache Is Fun?

March 17, 2012

120307FacesGouacheSegmentLeft: A segment of a recent gouache sketch in my in-studio Fabriano Venezia journal ( 9 x 12 inch page size). Read below for more details.

Everyone knows I'm on a campaign to get more people (OK everyone) to use gouache. 

I can't help myself. It's just so much fun to paint and sketch with gouache. It's freeing, you can let yourself go, but you can always come back. 

In the swatch at the side you can see that you can also paint over the very heavy ink lines that the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen deposits. (Or not, your choice.)

You can layer light wet washes (especially if you use great gouache like M. Graham or Schmincke brands) and then you can go back in with heavier applications of paint. 

When working on paper which has a little bit of texture and when you are working with a dry brush, you can get lovely bits of paper or previous layers of paint peeking through. (See the top magenta lines showing the paper, and the lavendar strokes on top of which some French Ultramarine blue has been stroked.)

Of course you can also go back into your painting with white, either mixed with another color or just white that you blend or don't blend with whatever is underneath.

How incredibly fun is all this?

Look at the long blue stroke at the bottom of this segment. See how you can even see some of the brush stroke there. I love it. It makes me happy.

And with all this fun, even if it is late and well past bedtime, you can clean up with water lickety split! 

So whether you want to correct your sketch lines by painting over them and hiding them, or you want to layer and play with color for reasons totally your own, gouache has so much to recommend it.

Sometimes I get so happy playing with gouache that I break my own rules. As you can see in the full page spread that is presented below, I actually used BLACK PAINT on the face on the recto page! 

So pick up a selection of brushes that you enjoy working with (or which you want to try out). You can read about the brushes that I like to use (and what I like to use them for) here.

If you are new to gouache I highly recommend that you pick up at least one filbert in the Silver Bristlon line. You'll thank me later. It will help you push the paint around in the most amazingly delicious ways.

Don't worry what the end result is, just have fun. Learn something in the process. Below I learned that it's OK to use black paint upon ocassion.


  1. Reply

    I recently made a gouache sketch set from a mint tin and beer bottle tops. It’s gone to the beach with me on a few occaisions and I’m starting to love this medium too. It’s easier than taking a load of acrylic and is meatier than watercolour to use. A timely post for me, thank you for sharing.

  2. Reply

    Lisa, I think that sounds like a fun homemade palette with the bottle tops! I’m glad you’re enjoying gouache. I love working with acrylic as well, but I never take it into the field even with my sta-wet palette. I just think I would get into big trouble with it drying too fast, and of course the mess of me covered in acrylic. Gouache lets me have fun both at home and on the road, with the thickness of paint coverage that I choose to use. Keep enjoying those beach sketching trips!

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