Happy 2013: Begin as You Mean To Continue—with Gouache!

January 1, 2013

Above:  Sketch of a conure in a 6-1/8 x 9-1/2 inch Fabriano Venezia Journal. Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and Schmincke Gouache.

It's 2013 and if you read this blog regularly you know I like to do a little bit of all my favorite things on New Year's Day, to set the tone for the rest of the year. 

You can read about my New Year's Day Ritual here.

Today, as an addition to my ritual I am encouraging you to work with gouache. 

While working through the 6-1/8 x 9-1/2 inch Fabriano Venezia Journal I wrote about last week I of course did some bird studies, because of course birds are something I love as well. Today's image is a quick color sketch I did from photos taken of a conure. (When I went to give my gouache demo at Wet Paint at the end of November I walked in and found TJ sitting on her owner's head. TJ's owner is a frequent visitor to Wet Paint and I've been happy to see her there many times when I've been visiting.)

I wanted to create that zigzag line on the left side of the bird (viewer's left) so I knew I would skate close to the gutter with the eye, but I think it manages to work because I spent some time adding detail to the beak and I think the weight of the beak pulls you out of the gutter. (I think it's an interesting angle on the bird that I will probably do a flat painting of as well, sometime in the new year.)

121211TJstudyDetailLeft: Detail from the sketch of TJ.

I've included a detail of a portion of the image so that I can point out what are fun bits for me. Look at the top left of the detail image. See the thin streaks of dark red/orange? Those are made with a round Niji brush that I pinched flat and squeezed relatively dry. I stroked into the still slightly wet red-orange and dragged it into the yellow of the forehead.

Around the beak there is some fuzzy dry-brushed "black" over the red/orange. I don't use black paint. That's a mix of PB60 and Burnt Sienna. After painting the beak, while it was still moist I pushed the dark paint out over the red/orange paint (which was dry) with my finger.

At the bottom right of the beak there are red orange strokes pulled into the beak. Those were stroked over a dry beak From the red/orange area (I had added a bit of fresh red/orange paint right in that area). I deliberately let my brush pick up some of the blue paint so that it would also contaminate the red/orange and create some fuzziness.

Color sketches are a great time for playing with your paint and working out approaches that you want to use in your final painting. 

I hope you'll make some time in your New Year's Day Ritual to have some fun with gouache. (That's what I'm up to right now, because I loaded this post in advance so I'd have painting time!) 

Have a great 2013. Thanks for reading the blog and staying in touch. Put your intentions into action today.

    • KerowynA
    • January 1, 2013

    Roz, this is a great post. in fact all of your posts leading up to the New Year have been great posts. On my part, I will be doing exactly as you suggested, primarily putting together some new, ergonomically-correct furniture for my workroom, which should encourage me to spend more time “at table”.

    As for gouache…well a while back, in one of your posts, I asked for your suggestions to expand beyond the six-color set you created for Wet Paint. Of course, I immediately forgot where I placed that comment, as often happens, so I never got the answer, but recently I got proactive and actually READ THROUGH some of your many gouache posts, and found the answer for myself.

    So once my new work table is assembled, I will play with the original six-color gouache set later today and into tomorrow, as I am off work tomorrow, and then wait until I have the pocket money for the next six colors that are now waiting in the wings. Of course, as a side benefit, having to sell some little-used books to accommodate the new work table will help with that.

    All in all, a good start on 2013.

  1. Reply

    Kerowyn kudos to you for putting new furniture together to make working at your table possible! (I would encourage you to take frequent breaks as well—even the best furniture in the world can’t help us if we aren’t conscious of what our body is doing and what it needs. I look up from the computer every 15 minutes—or even more frequently—to adjust my eyes and prevent strain; I get up and stretch about that frequently, but at least every half hour.)

    I’m sorry the gouache answer disappeared for you, I find that the computer is wonderful for storing things and even retrieving some things, but EEEEK sometimes things just disappear or aren’t easily retrieved. I’m glad you were able to dig around and satisfy yourself. The upside is that in reading all those posts you now have an even better understanding about my point of view of gouache and as you work with it you can decide, nope, I don’t agree with that, I do agree with this, etc. and come to your own conclusions based on putting those thoughts into action as you work.

    I hope table assembly goes great and you have a fun day today and tomorrow with gouache.

    Like you I have been culling my book shelves (I needed shelf space to store project files! Boring). I have grocery bags of books that I’m set to take to the book store. They won’t bring in much money, but they WILL make space. And I’m very glad of that.

    I hope your 2013 is a great year. Congratulations on the great start!

  2. Reply

    Yes, an excellent jump start to the New Year reading your recent posts. It is infinitely satisfying to spend New Year’s day paging through all the sketches from the last year and realizing that drawing changes your life as much as documents it.
    ONWARD! and….PORTLANDIA will soon be back on the telly! WE CAN PICKLE THAT!

  3. Reply

    Ellen, PUT A BIRD ON THAT comment! I spent last night watching the Portlandia marathon (well after awhile I just taped them to view later because I couldn’t laugh any longer). I’m ready for next Friday!

    Thanks for reading, and for your kind comments. And yes, looking back and seeing what has been accomplished in our journals is satisfying, and it generates more energy for the year to come, and all the sketches yet to be discovered!

    Have a great 2013!

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