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Saturday, January 29, 2011

MORE evolving pages--gouache comes in handy!

Sometimes our sketches just don't get it for us.  I was at a family birthday party, where I normally sketch, and these little guys just didn't work.  They were too pale and wimpy, Aidan didn't look anything like Aidan, and these sure weren't the best Finn drawing I ever did.  The dog was actually the thing I was happiest with, on this page, and it was still just pale on that tan paper.

HOWEVER.  I normally make my own journals and I just haven't had time--this is the last one I have on hand, and I hated to waste a page!  I didn't want to erase them, either...so days later, I was sitting in the parking lot at the library, waiting while my husband ran in.  The snow cliffs, pushed off the parking lot by the snowplow, were impressive, so I tured to that page and sketched them in, in ink.

Later, back home, I added some gouache, and decided to just let the paint outline the earlier sketches.  It's a weird page, but I like it!  It captures something of the progression of our days, as well as of our journal pages. 

I used a white Gellyroll pen to add the text at lower right that balances the snow at the top...
Gouache (opaque watercolor) is a terrific journaling tool, particularly on toned paper.  Like white colored pencil, it really makes things pop.  That's what I used on this little journal, one of the rare ones I haven't made myself.  (It came from Moon Moth Press on Etsy, and I enjoyed using it, very much.  This one had the interesting green Bugra paper, and some lovely smooth 90 lb. Arches hot press watercolor paper, which was a pleasure to work on.  Check them out!)

Gouache worked rally well in the field, painting my favorite crumbling barn.

Several of our correspondents use gouache--you'll see a lot of it on Roz Stendahl's  pages, for instance.  You can find her blog entries, always a wealth of information, on the subject of gouache, HERE.

I made my own little traveling set by filling an old Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor set with gouache from tubes.  Let it set up a few days, and I was ready to go!


  1. Hey, Ms. Kate, a couple of questions for you...what type of gouache do you use (brand name)? I have some Holbein and when that stuff dries, it seems to never fully reconstitute when I add water. Second question, what type of lovely brown paper is that in the first sketch?

  2. Hi Laure! I use several different brands, actually, and you're right, some really want to crumble after they've dried, and may pop right off the palette. (Different colors do that, too...black seems particularly prone to crumbling.)

    Mostly I do use Holbein, Daniel Smith, M. Graham, and Horadam, though I used Winsor $ Newton for years and still have a few colors that work fine. I'm still experimenting! Check Roz's link, she's settled on a brand more than I have, I just can't remember what it is...

    And OH if I could find that lovely brown paper again I would be SO happy. I don't know what it is. I've tried art supply shops here and in California, I've ordered online, I've asked Legion Papers, and mostly I've received this ugly salmon color. Sorry I can't be more help!

    REALLY sorry, actually!

  3. Kate, I was so happy to show up today and see the post in which you're pushing gouache into the front of people's minds. It's my life's mission, as you know! I was writing in to tell you how happy that first snow page made me.

    I saw the other comment from Laure, about the brown paper. I can't tell, even from the enlargement of your page, if there are flecks in the paper or not, but both of you might want to try Magnani Annigone Designo (in sheets, not pads, which tends to really toughen this paper). It's sized for wet media and is a lovely brown.

    I've got lots of pages posted on my blog which use it, but this is one of my favorite, which also uses gouache.

    There's a dog sketch on that paper here
    it also uses gouache, with some fluid acrylics used on the background first.

    Nideggen is another tan paper that is wonderful for gouache. It is a lighter weight paper and some folks don't like the buckling (which I don't find excessive at all). Despite the lightweight nature of the paper it is very opaque! And it has a lovely WAVY laid texture which adds interest to brush and pencil work. I've got lots of pages up on my blog of Nideggen if Laure is interested in another paper option and wants to use the search engine there.

    Both papers are through Legion and are widely available either in stores or mail order.

    As for paints, I of course love Schmincke's Horadam brand because they have my beloved PB60, but also because they rewet so well. M. Graham also rewet well. Both are free of opacifiers that can muddy up a paint.

    That said, if I'm in the studio and need fresh paint that is really, really opaque, I'll get the Holbein out. But it doesn't rewet well for me at all. And I was just in the store the other day picking up a new tube of cobalt teal and noticed that few of their paints are rated lightfast in their line, i.e., a lot of 1 or 2 star ratings and very few 3 stars. So I was saddened by that and probably won't by any more of it except a few colors now and then.

    Schmincke has a great color chart pamphlet that you can get for their watercolors and they use the same pigments in their gouache line so you can do some research before you go (it may also be on line somewhere but I don't have a link). M. Graham's ratings are listed on their website. If I recall correctly there is a downloadable chart with their pigments. But their tubes and Schmincke's are also labeled well so if you know the pigments you're looking for you can make in-store decisions.

    Laure, I hope you give either M. Graham or Schmincke Horadam gouaches a try. I think you'll have great success with either.

  4. Kate, I forgot to add to my comment that the Magnani Annigoni Designo I mentioned was used in my Weirdo Journal. A video flip through of it can be seen here

    Also, if that paper interests Laure at all she can go to
    And see a wrap up page on all the posts from the Weirdo journal, so she can look at some of the images as stills instead of quick video.

    Laure, I also wanted to say that one of the great things about the M. Graham and Schmincke gouaches that I use is their ability to be used in lovely light washes as well as thicker applications. There is a lot of range. Again, I think you will enjoy working in gouache (but then it's my life's goal to convince people of this so I have a compulsion to say that!) Roz


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