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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Versatile Gouache!

Roz, thanks for such a wonderful post on this medium...it is ideally suited to sketching on the spot and journal work!  Like watercolor, it's easy to clean and rewet.  It's long been a favorite in Europe, and thanks to artists like Roz and Cynthia Padilla, it's gaining in popularity.

The above is a quick plein air sketch in watercolor and gouache on white paper...

This one's gouache on green-toned paper--it was in my Sierra Club book.  I love the way you can "punch sky holes" in foliage to get that lacy look, without worrying about preserving your lights.

Of course it's wonderful on black paper, too...this was in my back yard on a wonderful warm sunny day when the strong light was hitting the geraniums. 

I like to bind my journals with mostly white but some black, tan, or blue gray paper...makes it fun to jump in there with gouache!


  1. Kate, I love all these images you have posted. You are a true ambassador of gouache. Your paintings capture light and contrast so brilliantly. So many people grumble about gouache and say it looks dull and muddy and that transparent watercolor is the only way to go, but your gouache paintings just thumb their noses (if paintings had noses) at that misunderstanding of gouache. Here's to more converts! Roz

  2. Kate, those are sensational gouache sketches. I'm on vacation right now in Florida painting in the journal in all gouache, loving it, but experiencing a bit of that muddiness that Roz referred to. How do you keep your lights and color so brilliant? And what kind of paper do you use for your black paper in the journal?

  3. Oh, dear, I just made another order from Blick...

  4. Hi Maria! I'd been thinking about you, hope you're enjoying your vacation, and glad you're getting in lots of journal sketching. I'm not sure how I do that, except I tend to use purer color and not mix too much when I use gouache. The paper MAY be Strathmore black Art Again, sometimes Canson MiTientes, maybe Stonehenge?

  5. Your qouache is an inspiration, Kate! I'm going to have to brush the dust off my gouache and jump in. I don't think I put enough paint on when I dabble in it.

  6. It IS fun, Elva, and I love to work on toned paper in my journal, so the two work together perfectly.

  7. Wow!!! I am truly in awe, Kate! Love, love, LOVE these paintings!! Amazing. The one with the black background is mesmerizing!

    I don't think I ever really understood what gouache was. I also had a watercolor teacher who said "bad" things about gouache, and I let him influence my opinions instead of checking it out for myself. I think he was a transparent "purist", and was just trying to help his beginning students by keeping them focused.

    Kate, I also came across you beautiful painting of a wreath on your Quicksilver blog. Breathtaking. I learned about the PR209 Quin. Red from the HandPrint site. I am so in love with that color! Did your other order from Blick include it? If so, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and if you happen to hate it I will happy purchase it from you! LOL.

    Gouache Question (for Kate, Roz, any one): Can you use waterbrushes with gouache???

  8. This isn't fair!! Now I wanna paint in gouache, too! LOL! And there are not enough hours in the day, dagnabit!

    Kate, you make it look so easy (in those gorgeous paintings!!).....and I know it's not because I've messed with gouache before....and went back to watercolors. Sigh.

    Let me go see if I can find my kit.......

  9. Wendi, yep you can use a waterbrush with gouache, I do it all the time with my travel palette. I find that I have to watch my water levels more carefully, however with gouache and a waterbrush, because a lot of what I prefer to do is fairly dry brush and you always get some moisture in the waterbrush. But in the field it's my number one tool with the gouache. If you're just starting with gouache and are working in a situation where the waterbrush isn't necessary then I would encourage you first to do all your experiments and practice with regular brushes and a water container so you get the hang of it and the full experience. Roz

  10. Wendi, in this country gouache DID have a bad name for a while; "pure aquarelle" was all the thing. But it doesn't have to be either/or, I like BOTH. I don't use gouache to "fix" a watercolor gone wrong, generally, I use it because it's a wonderful medium all by itself.

    The wreath was gouache, too, I did it for Country Living.

    Miss Laure, thank you--watercolors are always my first love, but the freedom of gouache is intoxicating!

    And yes, as Roz says, you can use waterbrushes with gouache. I tend to keep my gouache ones separate because some of the opaque paint wants to stay in the hairs, and ONCE in a while it gets sucked back up into the water reservoir.


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