More from the Blue-Paper Journal

May 14, 2012

Click on the post link to see details.

120420PaintedManLeft: Pentel Pocket Brush Pen sketch and gouache on blue laid paper. From an approximately 12 inch square journal. Clipped in scanning to save time.

This paper in the English journal is thick enough that you can paint on it without the paper buckling, even though it isn't a wet media paper. It's fun to paint on even though there is a lot of drag on the brush because of the paper's texture.

THe blue in the eyes and at the very edges and base of the page are all the original blue of the paper. The other blues are added paint.

I was working with Schmincke gouache except that I had M.Graham titanium white already out.

I was using a filbert brush to make flat strokes, turnning it on its side to make more rounded strokes.

Some of my black in lines are still visible (see the outline of the iris in each eye. But other times I'm covering the ink as in the collar where I decided I didn't like the "plaid shading."

    • Miriam
    • May 14, 2012

    Roz, I have a couple of questions on painting with gouache. And I apologize if you’ve already cover these in previous posts 🙁 Why is it that you use special brushes when using gouache? Why not use the same brushes you use for watercolors? Also, do you use as much water with gouache as with watercolors? Thanks Roz for sharing your love for gouache!

  1. Reply

    Miriam I have written about these items before but I don’t know which gouache post they would be in so I’ll just type quickly here:

    Separate brushes. You can use your watercolor brushes for gouache if you want to. In fact all the brushes you use for watercolor or acrylics will probably be useful for you when working in gouache (see my post on brushes by searching in the search engine of this blog). BUT, and this is the reason I use separate brushes—the pigment in gouache is coarser than in watercolor. The coarser grind actually helps with the opacity. If you aren’t scrupulously careful about cleaning your brushes after every gouache session it’s possible that you’ll leave some pigment in the brush up near the ferrule and it will dislodge at the most inconvenient time—like when you are making a light graduated wash with transparent watercolors.

    So why risk it.

    ALSO I am really hard on my gouache brushes, so I save certain favorite brushes for watercolor.

    As to water I can’t address that because “as much” doesn’t have any real meaning in this context. I use as much water as I need for either watercolor or gouache and sometimes that amount of water is exactly the same. To say that doesn’t tell you anything because I use less water with my watercolors than most painters I’ve seen work.

    Since it’s all non-quantifiable with those terms I can tell you the following. Traditionally gouache painters mixed their paints to the consistency of heavy cream.

    I use my gouache both in light translucent washes at the same consistency as I use watercolor and I use them more heavily. If you look at pages I post on the blog and write about gouache you’ll see me discuss both methods and how they were used in one image.

    Here’s a post where I use gouache as heavily as I ever use it
    But even in those two portraits (scroll down to see them in full) I have areas where I have light washes, see the yellow on the woman’s face.

    It’s something that you work on with gouache, bending it to what you need.

    I suggest that you do some exercises with your favorite brush practicing mixing up colors that are of a consistent consistency and applying them to paper to see what types of strokes you can make. Based on that you can then add more or less water to make different strokes, and keeping all that in mind you can then branch out and paint some sort of subject matter apply what your experiments have led you to.

    Another thing you need to practice is layering colors. You need to control the water in your pigment and your brush as well as the pressure of your brush when you’re applying one color over the other. Of course you do this in watercolor painting as well, but I think the touch is a lighter in a different way from gouache, because with gouache the paint itself is thicker and you have to apply more pressure to get it off your brush.

    To practice this I would make 3 inch x 1 inch rectangles on a sheet of watercolor paper (300 lb. if you have it) and cover each with a solid color of gouache, let it dry, and then go back in on top of those colors with new colors to learn what it takes to get the effect you want.

    Have fun with your experiments.

    If you’re in the Twin Cities I’m going to be doing a demo in a little bit and you might want to watch out for that when I post details. (Sometime in the future I’ll do a video, but I’m rather short on time these days.)

  2. Reply

    Miriam, two other posts (one of which is a whole category) might help you. If you look at
    You’ll see me using gouache very lightly even on a toned paper. In part this is because I was working at ultra speed and didn’t have time for any of the paint to soften, and in part it was just the way I was feeling—do a sketch.

    If you look at any of the fantasy portraits I’ve been doing lately like this one
    (and that post will have links at the end in the “if you like” suggestions that I’m sure will take you to others in this grouping)

    There I’ve used gouache diluted to almost a light watercolor wash. (I use Schmincke and M. Graham gouache and they don’t have opacifiers in them so it’s possible to do this.)

    Yet in others of the fantasy pieces I work heavier, with drier pigments
    This is sort of medium
    This is heavy

    I think you can see why I think gouache is so much fun. It’s so versatile.

    • Miriam
    • May 15, 2012

    Roz, THANK YOU SO MUCH for answering my questions and for including the links! I really appreciate it!

    Now that I’m reading your answers, yes, the amount of water is very relative and subjective. One of the reasons I asked that question is that some people comment that certain papers are suitable for gouache but not so much for watercolor, so I was wondering if it was because you don’t use “as much” as when using watercolors. But now that you pointed out the different examples, it is clearer to me that sometimes you use little water, sometimes more water. I’ve just purchased some Schmincke and M. Graham gouache. But of course, I still have to practice. I’ll follow your suggestions on the exercises.

    I’m in Texas, so going to the Twin Cities is not that easy. I was actually planning to register for you color theory class, but have a family visit conflict. If there is an opportunity in the future, I’ll make sure I schedule it for whenever class you may have at that time 🙂

    Thank you Roz!

  3. Reply

    Miriam, any watercolor paper will take gouache. Some might not be as fun for the artist as others depending on the finish and surface they like to work on. I work on 90 lb papers a lot, in my books, which is pretty thin, and many gouache artists don’t use thin paper because they are worried about cracking issues (gouache laid on in really heavy layers may crack). But I’ve never had any problems. For my paintings I tend to use 300 lb. watercolor paper or Claybord™ because I like the stiff surface and the push it gives to my stiff brushes (which I use for my larger works).

    Some people don’t like smooth papers so the Hot Press watercolor papers I like wouldn’t be suitable for them. I like them, and I like textured papers like all the ones you see on the blog, because their texture can show through in the strokes and make it more fun.

    I work a lot with gouache on bristol (Strathmore 500 series Plate mostly, but also their vellum).

    I would do your initial experiments as outlined in my previous replies to you, on some sort of watercolor paper—a cold press paper would be a good selection. In that way you can get a baseline of what you know will work, without being frustrated by the paper.

    Then you can apply what you learned on those experiments to other papers you want to test.

    Have fun. Check the blog for a future video since you’re far away. I hope we can work together sometime.

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