View Full Version : Best gouache for thicker layers??

Devoted 2Art
03-02-2012, 12:15 AM
Hello - Currently I am working on a gouache portrait using an oil painting technique with mostly Turner Design Gouache , Lascaux & M Graham in thick layers. I also use Lascaux Sirius (watercolor) as a base coat and for subtle blending. For highlighting I prefer Lascaux white (thick), Rowney & Schmincke's Zinc & Titanium. I do have complete sets of several different artist quality brands. I've found Rowney & Maimeri to work very nice in thin layers while Holbein, Linel & Schmincke are better for opaque single layer applications because they seem to 'muddy' easily. I've used W & N but I don't like it.

I am aware most people use gouache in thin layers but I am hoping somebody can give direction in which brands are cleanest for applying thick (oil like) layers for delicate subjects like people's faces. I know it can be done because I've stumbled upon it in the past but can't remember what I did:crying:.

If anyone here has tried this & can share a secret or two on how you achieved it I'd appreciate it. I'm going for a really smooth and believable yet almost surreal look. Please post the work here or a link to work if it's available. Mosly I am interested in the brand of gouache (and watercolor if used) and the paper. Thanks for any help or advice.
- John

03-21-2012, 10:24 AM
Hi John, I have only used DaVinci Gouache as I also use this brand for all my watercolor works. I can't say that i use gouache for thicker layers when doing my characters-- I use light layers. I'll use thicker amounts for other things however. Hopefully someone will post to more on your thread.

Good luck-

03-23-2012, 03:33 PM
Don't know if this helps, but Peter Worsley in his blog on gouache mentions adding Aquapasto to his gouache for thicker layers. In one of the paintings on the blog he says the paint in one section is 1/8" thick.

03-23-2012, 07:22 PM
John, Maestro The Guru MacEvoy says:
Gouache also will crack if applied too thickly or in too many layers; or if the paintings have been rolled up rather than kept flat. And if gouache is applied in several layers, the dry coats underneath will tend to draw moisture and vehicle from the fresher coats, causing them to crack or flake. This can be remedied by adding gum arabic to the subsequent layers, but this in turn can increase the transparency and surface glossiness of the dried paint..

(His gouache page is here (http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/pigmt7.html).) Let us know if you get any cracking.


Devoted 2Art
03-28-2012, 11:59 PM
Thank you all for the comments -
Geoff - I really like your new Manga style and knowing it's DaVinci Gouache makes me appreciate it even more. I've got a couple dozen tubes of DaVinci but have yet to give them a serious work-out (I've recently been working more with brands that I've become more familiar with). It's good to see the results that can be achieved with them. Excellent style & work. Would you mind posting one of your thicker style works here as an example? I'm really interested in seeing the results.

rdp - While Peter Worsley is undoubtedly very talented and and amazing with his gouache technique, his application of the medium seems common to me. It is not the style I am hoping to achieve through my experiments though I do like it a lot. I guess it may explain why I've had little luck with aquapasto. I've found Schmincke's Gouache Binder (though not it's intended use) works better for adding a thicker drag to the paint when I need it.

Jan - Thank you for the article. It helps explain a lot of what I've been experiencing and has a lot of useful information in it. Since I've originally started this thread, I've done a lot more experimenting and getting very close to achieving what I've set out to do. The process I've developed allows layering, glazing & blending with specific colors from various brands. Although I've been unable to duplicate these results with just one brand I'm not certain it can't be done. I've also incorporated the use of Holbein's Acryla Gouache, M. Graham watercolor and a couple of acrylic mediums (used sparingly) to help build layers, glaze or blend areas. I've yet to encounter any cracking but all of my work is kept flat. I have had new layers of paint appear chalky when applied but I've corrected these issues easily by brushing off excessive paint and reapplying with fresh paint. I use a porcelain palette that I refill often (with paint I premix with distilled water in ink bottles with dropper tops) so I guess if the paint isn't stirred properly prior to use, it can create the chalky appearance. Another major step toward my goal is experimenting with tinted paper (which is mentioned in the article). I've got a way to go with my experiments but I'm confident I'm on the right track.

Thanks again for all the useful comments & information. Any other suggestions or examples would be very appreciated.

04-01-2012, 03:43 PM
You prwmix paint in drop top bottles with water? Do the paints stay pretty opaque? If so, what's the paint:water ratio and what sizes are the bottles? I wouldn't mind having bottles instead of carrying a stay wet palette everywhere sometimes causing paint to mix....

Also sorry I have no help for you with thick layer painting, I tried this with Reeves l since that's all I have access to and can assure you it doesn't work well

Devoted 2Art
04-02-2012, 04:15 PM
Hi Leili! The paints stay very fresh in the bottles http://www.dickblick.com/products/empty-glass-ink-bottles/. The water/ paint ratio depends on the brand & constancy you need. My process for mixing the paints is a bit time consuming but here it goes....
1st - I prepare the materials I need.

1 - File Folder Labels (nothing worse than forgetting what paint you've premixed). I use a fine point permanent pen to abbreviate the brand & color.
I print small and can fit 2 lines on each label. I then cut them in half & stick them to the ink bottles. I cover that with a piece of scotch tape (since the labels sometimes don't adhere well to glass.

2 - 3 oz Plastic bath cups. I buy these at Wal Mart real cheap & they work. The much more expensive paper cups will tear and leak when using the mixer. I squeeze some paint from the tube into the cup and cut it off using a 3-1/2" sandwich pick. Then I use the pipette http://www.dickblick.com/products/paint-pipettes/ (http://www.dickblick.com/products/paint-pipettes/)to drop distilled water into the cup with the paint and stir just a little with the sandwich pick.

3 - I use the Badger paint mixer to mix the paint to the consistency i need. (Be careful to have the mixer all the way in the paint prior to starting and hold the cup tightly - It can get messy :D).http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BROV02/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=10328387729&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4816110181795113903&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_4e635m0t6c_b

4 - Usually I make a thicker mix before the first pour & squeeze the cup to a spout & pour into the empty bottle. I usually mix up several jars at one time & this process is much easier than squeezing paint into the jar & shaking it. There is a little waste left in the cup but it's much less than squeezing from the tube every session.

The end result....

I've had really good luck using these jars for Watercolor, gouache & acrylic. The tubes are easier to carry around but having the prepared paint saves a lot of time in the studio.

I've never worked with Reeves gouache but I find most brands don't work well for in thick layers. I'm getting close to figuring it out.

04-03-2012, 10:01 AM
You might find that the quality or consistency of gouache you're looking for is easier to get by just making it yourself. It's not difficult to do.

I haven't found any particular brand that I would equally compare to oil is terms of their opacity or viscosity. They'd be closer to acrylics. The better brands achieve their opacity by the pigment load, but I've found them all to be relatively thin, which is something I prefer in gouache. I like the Da Vinci brand mainly for the price and volume of paint, but less for their pigment choices.

You have a nice setup there John. One thing you might want to keep an eye on is that the rubber stoppers on those ink bottles can eventually deteriorate and crack. I have some ink bottles that are not even very old that had that problem. Maybe you can find regular replacement lids for them.

04-03-2012, 11:50 AM
Novice99 compliments for your studio set up, is so neat and tidy that makes me envy! About painting with gouache in thick layers I think the matter is a bit ambiguous, especially without examples of what you want to achieve.

The beauty of gouache is that is highly opaque and has a great matte and velvety finish. These qualities, along with the easy solubility/lifting, makes it definitely not the best medium for glazing or complex layering. It will never behave like oils or even acrylic in reflecting light back through the glazes because of its own nature.
You can make it to "look like" applied in thick layers by blending colors on the painting surface and by using dry brush techniques, but if you go for a thick and textured appearance you will most likely end up with a cracked surface, especially on paper and over the years and if you don't, as the majority of artists, varnish the final piece.

I'm just guessing here but the fact that you have mentioned that you use acrylic mediums and acrylic gouache mixed in your pieces might indicate your wish for it to behave with a different personality. Adding acrylics in any quantity in my opinion makes it a mixed media. There are great products like Lascaux Acrylic Gouache, Turner Acrylic Gouache, or Hobein Acryla that retain most of the qualities of gouache and make it more flexible and eclectic.
These my two cents of wisdom in just trying to understand what you are aiming for. Please post examples if you can, we are very curious!

Devoted 2Art
04-03-2012, 11:14 PM
David - Thank you for the useful information. I'm glad you mentioned the use of preservatives. Both Blockx watercolor & Lucas Gouache have an issue with mold but it's really good to know how to prevent it in the future. Would you recommend adding it to my current jars? I do like Schmincke's gouache binder and actually use it as to help thicken & blend some paints but haven't tried making my own gouache yet. Sounds like something I'd like to do. I've had my DaVinci gouache for awhile & still haven't really used it. I've started to several times but then end up using something that seemed to work a bit better for me.
I've been using the ink bottle set up for a couple years & have had no problems other than Maimeri Gouache drying in the pipette. Hopefully I won't have the cracking problem. I've got some Rowney & Winsor Newton acrylic in the same type dropper jars that are still perfect after nearly 20 years.

Liricus - Thank you for the comments - Since my studio is actually a multi function room it's fairly organized when NOT in use. It's difficult to keep organized while painting but I keep trying. Never quite realize the mess I've made till the session's over.
I realize now that 'Best gouache for thicker layers??' may not have been the best title for this thread. I am learning (as you mention in your response) that a more appropriate title would have been "Best gouache technique for appearance of thicker layers??'. Seemed like my highlights were missing the punch or fullness I was hoping for and thought building thicker layers would create more dimension. You said "You can make it to "look like" applied in thick layers by blending colors on the painting surface and by using dry brush techniques,". This is so true and I am learning exactly what you mean. For a long time I painted watercolor style by reserving whites and painting around areas to create highlights. By painting and blending all the tones at the same time gives the depth I'm looking for. It also works nicely with a wet in wet technique but it's tricky. I am experimenting with acrylic mediums for surface prep mostly (They haven't performed well when mixed with gouache but they can be tinted to seal the paper's surface and reduce absorbancy where needed). I ordered some Stonehenge paper and found the dark (Kraft) was too absorbent & gouache would seem to evaporate on it. I have found Holbein Arcyla mixed with gouache works well for creating a permanent opaque layer for building gouache on. I've tried Turner Acryla Gouache and Turner Acryla Artists Color but I haven't been to fond of it because of the major color shift when it dries (Though I really like their designer gouache). I like Lascux's acrylic gouache a lot but unlike Holbein & Turner's acryl; Lascaux is re wettable and has very smooth workability. So - would you consider a gouache painting using the "Acrylic gouache' to be mixed media? Gouache is my favorite medium to work with and at this point I am still learning how to use it to create various textures. Unfortunately all of my experiments are mostly patches of color on various surfaces and don't amount to anything except hours & hours of dedication & experience. I'll start a serious project soon and post it as a WIP. This way I can get some helpful hints along the way.

Thank you both for the comments & all the useful information.

04-04-2012, 08:04 AM
...I've got some Rowney & Winsor Newton acrylic in the same type dropper jars that are still perfect after nearly 20 years...

It depends on the stopper. I recently bought some Dr. Martin's ink and only a few days later noticed the stoppers had cracks in them. I went through other bottles of other brands and found some had the same problem. However, there were smoe old W&N inks bottle stoppers that were still okay.

Phil Coleman
02-11-2013, 05:16 AM
Devoted to art,

Quite a collection but are these really being used, You dont appear to have any paint on the walls or on the carpet. everything is so orderly and the tubes of paint don't look used.

My collection of 1800 pastels once looked like this before i started using them

I suppose collecting adds to the fun. But a good friend of mine who attends the same art class as myself paints with perhaps just 7 or 8 colours but what a command of colour she has. I realise now that one doesnt need hundreds of tubes!