View Full Version : Transitioning from Watercolor to Gouache... Help needed!

06-09-2012, 07:13 PM
Hi all, just joined this lovely forum!

I'm an intermediate to advanced watercolor artist and I'll be transitioning to gouache this summer for my upcoming classes where we need to work with gouache. I need to get practice in. :P

I have several questions:
1. Can I use my watercolor brushes with gouache paint? What brushes are recommended in general for gouache? (I use the Cheap Joe's Dreamcatcher Brushes)
2. Does gouache rewet well? I will be using Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache. Should I rewet the paint or just add new dabs of paint in each time before I begin?
3. I don't have any half pans, so I was thinking of using contact lens cases instead. Will it help if I keep the gouache paint sealed air tight? It won't mold, will it?
4. What are the similarities and differences between gouache and watercolor?
5. I've heard that gouache dries lighter or differently every time. Is this because of the paint itself, or the amount of water used?
6. Any tips or gouache-only techniques?
7. Recommended paper for gouache? Or is just 140lb. watercolor fine?

Thanks so much for your help! I am very excited to start using gouache. :D

06-10-2012, 03:05 AM
Welcome to the forum. Check out Ralph Parker's gouache blog (http://ralphparker.wordpress.com/gouache-paintings/).

There is also an active gouache community in the Watercolor Studio (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=&f=306) forum.


06-10-2012, 09:46 AM
There's a sticky thread (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=391298)on the top of this forum that has links which should answer many of your questions.

06-11-2012, 07:58 AM
Hi Vallina,

I'll answer your questions.

1. Yes you can.
2. Yes, it does re-wet very well. You may choose to add new dabs before you begin or let your color piles dry and re-wet them as needed.
3. Yes, you can use anything you like, including contact lens cases. I have used a piece of wood, and also the back of a metal pencil kit, even old plastic cd jewel cases.
4. In my opinion, the similarities are huge, especially if you use them watered down and in light washes. They are virtually indistinguishable when used in washes. They only look/act different to watercolor when you use them opaquely. W&N Gouache is highly pigmented, which causes them to be very opaque.
5. With gouache, the whites look lighter when wet, and the darks looks darker when wet. So, when they dry, your light colors will dry darker than you may expect, and the darks will dry lighter than you would expect.
6. My tip, is to place your colors out on a palette and treat it like watercolor washes, letting the white of the paper,canvas,masonite, or whatever support show through. Use it opaquely if you wish, but do so wisely. I tend to look at it like I would any other painting. Variety adds interest.
7. You can use 90lb paper in a pad, if you glue all four sides. This is a neat trick I learned after trying so hard to get 90lb paper to work in many different ways. Gluing all four sides of a pad works the best for me. I also love working on canvas with this stuff, it works great. Masonite is also kind of cool for gouache. Cardboard seems pretty good too. I'm sure 140lb watercolor paper would be good, if 90lb works. I have some acrylic paper that I love working on even more than watercolor paper sometimes.
8. Have fun.


06-11-2012, 09:44 AM
Hello, Vallina! :thumbsup:

IMO, the great joy and fun of gouache is to use it opaquely. Really slap the stuff on in big swaths. :heart: :heart: If you use it watered down and in light washes, you might as well be using watercolors and so not exploiting the depth and concentration of pigment in gouache.

RE: Paper: The opacity of gouache makes it REALLY fun on tinted paper, such as the brown "Kraft" color paper by Stonehenge (http://www.dickblick.com/products/stonehenge-paper/) or the somewhat lighter "Tan" by Rives (http://www.dickblick.com/products/rives-printmaking-papers/). (Although beware of the Rives paper! The Rives company was recently purchased by the worst, most-crappy paper company in the Universe, Canson, so the quality is bound to plummet very soon.)

Roz has been using gouache on blue paper lately and the results are nifty! Example here. (http://rozwoundup.typepad.com/roz_wound_up/2012/06/more-gouache-on-that-blue-paper-and-on-selecting-a-journal-size.html)

RE: Re-wetting: In my experience, gouache dries out rather quickly and does not re-wet as readily as I had hoped. I squeeze dabs of fresh paint onto a plexiglass palette each session, so I have fresh-from-the-tube color.

RE: Brushes: If you do need to re-wet dried palette dabs with a brush (as opposed to spritzing with water and then waiting waiting waiting), you'll need to really dig in with the brushes. Which means that you'll need sturdy brushes. The best I have found so far are the synthetics made by Bristlon. I have the Bristlon 1903 Filberts in sizes #2, #4, and #6 and use the first two (#2 and #4) ALL the time with gouache. Excellent brushes.

On the other hand, if you always start with fresh gouache from the tube, you can use any of your dainty and soft (and expensive) kolinsky sable watercolor brushes.

Other sites with good info on gouache:
-- Gouache vs. Watercolor: When, Why? / Roz Stendahl (http://rozwoundup.typepad.com/roz_wound_up/2011/11/gouache-vs-watercolor-when-why.html)
-- Project 640 Tubes: Selecting a Gouache Palette / Roz Stendahl (http://rozwoundup.typepad.com/roz_wound_up/2008/11/project-640-tubes-selecting-a-gouache-palette.html)
-- Why Use Gouache in Your Visual Journal? / Roz Stendahl (http://artistsjournalworkshop.blogspot.com/2011/02/why-use-gouache-in-your-visual-journal.html)
-- Opaque Watercolor / Donna Zagotta (http://donnazagotta.com/blog/?p=1761)
-- MacEvoy on Gouache (http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/pigmt7.html)

And some beautiful examples of gouache work: Nathan Fowkes Land Sketch (http://nathanfowkes-sketch.blogspot.com/). He's great. (Note especially his passages of dry-brush gouache. He is really good at it.)

For a really good deal on a small starter set of the premier brand (imo) of gouache -- Schmincke Horadam -- take a look at this (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=17082782&postcount=1848).



06-11-2012, 01:05 PM
Hello, Vallina! :thumbsup:

If you use it watered down and in light washes, you might as well be using watercolors and so not exploiting the depth and concentration of pigment in gouache.

This is simply false.