by Cynthia Padilla

Gouache, applied opaquely or transparently, is an easy medium to learn and can adapt to many styles of painting in studio or out. For the beginner just trying to add color to their repertoire, gouache might have all of the qualities to satisfy all your 'intro to color' needs.

Remember back to your childhood…painting with poster paint? Gouache is that beloved poster paint memory, all grown up!

Lay the color on thick and creamy and cover huge surfaces without a hint of brush stroke. There is no panic to paint fast and furious, as beginning watercolorists tend to do. You can even paint your entire background in first, and then put the details on top. It does not matter if the details on top will be lighter in color...gouache is an opaque medium.

Unlike painting in transparent watercolors, gouache lies on the surface. This means that on colored grounds (even black paper) the paint color remains true and (if applied heavy enough, of course) unaffected by the ground color below.

Gouache dries to a smooth matte finish and the finished painting has a flawless sophisticated suede-like quality. Indeed gouache is frequently used in the design and illustration industry. Although mostly thought of as a studio medium gouache can be an ideal medium for working outdoors on location.

Gouache is basically opaque watercolor and just like watercolor, you can achieve loose juicy washes. Gouache is made by grinding pigments together in the same medium as is used for watercolor and can be applied to paper in the same manner, remaining workable even after it dries on the painting surface.

When mixing to match, always test the color on the side and wait for it to dry. Darker colors appear lighter when dry, and the light color you were aiming for suddenly looks darker when it dries.

Get Portable
Instead of hauling paint tubes out on location, squeeze dollaps of color into the wells of a small covered palette, allow gouache to dry, close lid and head out to paint.

Ready? Set? Paint!
Once on location add ½ to equal amount of water to the paint. Stir with the stick end of your brush.  For opaque coverage the consistency should be creamy. For tranparent subjects just add more and more water. Paint!

Back in the studio the gouache remaining in your palette will last until your next foray out of doors. Even after dried to hard bits. Simply spritz or re wet and you are back in business. So dedicate a palette for gouache and don’t wash it out.

'Gwash' or 'goo-wash.'

These paintings showcase gouaches special properties. Click links to view:

1. Opaque Coverage
[ Gouache painted on black mat board http://earthpetalwing.blogspot.com/2011/01/egg.html ]

2. Translucency
[I didnt want 'transparent'...just a hint of 'sheer' to signify the fragility of the butterfly's wing: http://earthpetalwing.blogspot.com/2011/01/butterfly-pipevine-swallowtail.html ]

3. On Location
[Applied opaque and sheer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cynthiapadilla/132459868/in/set-72157602587789015

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Copyright & Usage Information
Copyrighted material. This content in any form, cannot be reused, reprinted, or copied in any manner without the express written permission of Cynthia Padilla. Request at padillapost@gmail.com

See all upcoming exhibits, demos, workshop/retreats: http://fruitflowerinsect.blogspot.com/p/workshopsdemosexhibitions-2011.html


Janene said...

Thanks for this informative and interesting explanation of gouache. I have been wanting to know more about it.

Cynthia Padilla said...

Glad u learned something here, Janene!

Susan Smith said...

After reading your very comprehensive information on gouache I'm going to try it out.
As you said, it can be varnished so I do not need to use acrylic gouache.

Have you ever used acrylic gouache?
Mrs Padilla your work is magnificent and truly inspirational.

Thank you for all your help
Susan Smith

Cynthia Padilla said...

Only dabbled in the acrylic gouache during a workshop I was in the middle of teaching. A student brought the product in, so of course I had to test drive them. Found them quite lovely. She swore by them.

Cynthia Padilla, workshop retreats internationally http://fruitflowerinsect.blogspot.com/

And thanks for the compliment to my work Susan!