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Topic: gouache.. Can anyone provide some tips?  (Read 1433 times)
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poppyred
« on: August 04, 2005 01:23:55 AM »

I love the look of gouache and would like to start using it on my altered books & paper crafts. Can anyone help me get started? Any links or books? All recommendations appreciated. Thanks bunches!  Kiss
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Sweet_Enemy
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2005 07:15:12 PM »

gouache is awesome.  It's available in two ways:  acrylic-based and traditional.  Both dry matte-finish, but the traditional can be re-wetted, the acrylic cannot.  I haven't seen any books exclusively on gouache, but here's what I know:

Personally, I really like traditional gouache because  it's just so wonderfully intense if you use it straight out of the tube (you'll want a not-sopping-wet-but-not-just-damp brush to lay it on nicely,) but you also have the advantage of thinning it down like watercolor.  It's made to be opaque, as you've probably figured, so when you water it down, it's usually grainy.  I like that, sometimes. 

I've tried both cakes and tubes, and recommend the tubes.  You'll get intensity right off the bat without having to spend time moistening the cakes and wearing your brushes down in the process.  Don't worry if your tubes dry out though, I reconstitued some that were 10yrs old just by cutting them open and putting them in plastic film cannisters with a bit of water.

The best way to buy the paint will be to check out a REAL color chart first:  one where it's actual pieces of paper with paint on them (never trust the printed color on the tube)
A good art store should have that.  I've used Holbein exclusively, but I hear Winsor & Newton is good too.   Holbein makes both the acrylic and the traditonal. 
I tried a Caran'd'ache cake set and hated it, the colors were on the dull side.  Hobein's acryla gouache I've tried, but it didn't suit my painting style.

Be prepared for the good brands to be expensive, but also know that it's that way because you're getting so much pigment! 

And of course, if you're up on color-mixing, just start with your red, yellow and blue.  With black and white, I made it through an entire semester of color-theory design.  But add the fun colors as soon as you can.  There are some pigments you simply cannot duplicate by mixing. 

*gasp*
whew!

have fun!
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2005 03:58:00 AM »

Gouache can be horribly tedious, but absolutely brilliant when you get it right.  Sweet Enemy has some great advice, but I'd add that you want the gouache to have a creamy consistency after you've mixed it, so that when you brush it on it spreads smoothly and evenly over your paper, without leaving brush marks (means the paint is too thick) or looking translucent (means the paint is too watery).  I'll also say that you'll be able to get the most out of your colour mixing if you use warm/cool colour theory.  This means you'll need a cool red (magenta), cool blue (cyan), cool yellow (lemon yellow), warm red (scarlet), warm blue (royal blue) and warm yellow (golden yellow), as well as black and white.  Cool colours mix to give a bright, clear palate, and warm colours mix to give a more dirtied palate, and these can be intermixed, as well as adding black, white or grey to vary the strength/tone of the colour.  These are the colours we are taught to use in all our colour theory at school, including printing and dyeing, and you can mix pretty much any colour you can imagine once you have a bit of practice under your belt.  Using good quality paper is defiantely a must with gouache.  Watercolour paper gives by far the best results, but any high quality drawing paper that doesn't buckle when wet will work well.  Another tip for mixing colours, often a little drop of dishwashing liquid will help stop colours from separating after you mix them, which can happen with some pigments.

Lastly, don't get frustrated by your first attempts.  I absolutely loathed gouache when we first started using it, but now that I've figured out how to get the best results out of it, I enjoy the poster-like quality the paints give when used flat, and the textured results you can acheive when being a little more experimental.
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Sweet_Enemy
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2005 06:29:37 PM »

jellibabi, I'm really glad I just read your post.  The tip about dishwashing liquid should come in handy, since I opened my bottle of re-constituted black guache last night, to find 1/2 inch of clear goo sitting at the top.  Delish.

Also, it's nice to hear about the warm/cool color mixing. Embarrasingly enough, it was like an epiphany.
I think I could use another color-theory class, because it's faded from memory so much it seems like a mystical science.  Hell, at least I know what you mean by warm/cool!

Guess it's time to buy more paint. 
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river_roane
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2005 12:45:36 AM »

I'm so glad someone else posted this. I've been trying to figure out gouache for a while, but I just can't get it. Every time I try to paint with it, it dries to quickly. I'll put down a bit of paint, go back to my palette to pick up some more, and the first bit is already dry. Is this the way it's supposed to be? I'm just not sure how to shade when I can't mix the paints together a bit on the paper. (Oh, yes, I have a fairly inexpensive set, so that may have something to do with it, and I was painting on illustration board.)

Sorry I don't have any advice. I looked all over for a book on gouache, and the only one I found said it was only intended as a student medium since it's so cheap. I see many wonderful pieces done with gouache, so I know that can't be right.
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Sweet_Enemy
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2005 04:52:35 PM »

I recently treated myself to a "wet-seal" palette (look for Masterson brand, they make a nice travel size which is perfect for my everyday use), because I usually work in acrylic.  If you get the moisture level just right in the sponge (which is below the palette paper)  it might work for gouache. 
So far, I've had acrylic survive in there for about two weeks before drying.  You just won't want the gouache getting too soppy, or it won't work. 
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2005 04:43:06 AM »

Roane, I've never had a problem of my gouache drying up too quickly - I can usually paint for several hours and not have to add any water to my gouache.  Your problem may be the kind of palette you are using, and the amount of paint you're mixing up.  You need to use a palette with deep compartments - using something too flat will mean that you have a thin layer of paint that spreads out onto the surface, and this will naturally dry quicker than paint in a deep compartment.  El cheapo ice cube trays work perfectly - just make sure they're either white or clear, so that you can get a true view of the colour you are mixing up.  You also need to mix up a decent amount of paint, not a few drops.  I usually squeeze a pea sized amount of gouache into my palette then add water.  Remember, you can always put unused gouache into film containers to save it for next time, or leave it to dry out and then re-wet it when you want to use it again.
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« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2007 04:45:26 AM »

i've searched but haven't found th answer to my question so i thought i'd bring this topic back up..i painted gouache on a fabric covered journal for a swap, and i was wondering if there is a way to set it and make it waterproof?
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« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2007 01:33:50 PM »

I have a tip for gouache. Don't use it, it sucks! J/K

People do some pretty amazing things with gouache, but I never could. Hence my hatred! My freshman year of college in my color theory classes we were required to use gouache ALL THE TIME and I have never been more uncomfortable with a medium in my life. For me it's like painting with a chalky snot. And one night when I was up late working on a gouache painting, I literally fell asleep on it, and when I woke up I had drooled and ruined the painting and my mouth was coated in cadmium yellow gouache. Can you say POISON?

All that aside, I have some friends who are devilishly good with gouache. I just have a very personal vendetta against it. Plus the paints themselves are so goddamned expensive if you want good ones. I don't know, I swore off gouache after my first year of college, maybe I never gave it much of a chance.
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2007 09:14:28 AM »

i've searched but haven't found th answer to my question so i thought i'd bring this topic back up..i painted gouache on a fabric covered journal for a swap, and i was wondering if there is a way to set it and make it waterproof?

i've yet to find a way to set gouache, but honestly haven't tried very hard.
you might want to try some kind of spray varnish, though it may change the texture of the cover.
if you were to use 'holbein acryla gouache' -- or any of the acrylic based gouaches instead of the water based gouaches -- it would be waterproof.


there are a ton of brands on the market, some lend themselves more to a watercolor style paint, and some are more opaque; some are watery and others more pastey. what style of paint are you looking for? i can probably recommend a good gouache for you. (used to work in an art supply store)
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