View Full Version : Gouache demos/tutorials?

12-01-2013, 03:30 AM
I wonder if this is the right place to ask.. but anyway..
I enjoy the (chalky) look of gouache / opaque watercolors and I'd like to get better at using them.
Unfortunately my internet searches for useful tutorials have been rather fruitless.

I have been wondering as there are not too many gouache tutorials around if I could use techniques of other media with them.
I understand that if used very watered down they behave kind of like (true) watercolors (more or less), but that's not really the way I'd like to use them.
So, when they are used a little bit thicker (but thinner than straight out of the tube) is there a possibility that acrylic or oil painting tutorials would apply more?

Shirl Parker
12-02-2013, 09:56 AM
While there is this forum for Gouache, there is actually more activity in a monthly thread in the Watercolor forum (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1336431). If you search for some of the past threads, you will find some work in progress (WIP) posts.

12-03-2013, 05:43 AM
Ah! Thank you! That's a lot of threads to go through. Should keep me busy for some while :cat:

12-14-2013, 07:28 PM
Here are a couple links that have some gouache tutorials and how-tos:
http://www.crashoctopus.com/category/how-to/ (full disclosure: this one's mine, so feel free to ask questions! Also ignore the oil painting stuff there)

To answer your question, oil painting tutorials are probably not going to be very helpful. Gouache and oil behave very differently - most noticeably in the drying time and with lifting. I've never really painted with acrylic or used any tutorials about it, but they'd probably be better than oil tutorials. Also check out James Gurney's blog (http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/) and search for casein - he has a bit of how-tos with it and it is closer to gouache in behavior than the mediums you mentioned.

Good luck!

12-14-2013, 10:14 PM
I was amazed when i realized how rare of a medium gouache is. It was really strange to me cause in Greece its one of the most common paints. Even in school kids are using them along watercolours, although we call them tempera and not gouache. It also used to be a very common medium in advertising and illustration before computers gain the upper hand. When i was studying at college it used to be the medium of choice along with markers and colored pencils, instead of acrylics or oils.
We were using a quite laborius method to produce photorealistic themes like cars, motorcycles, fruits and animals. Starting with a super detailed tracing procedure and then add extremely thin watered down layers of colour in crosshatching brushstrokes. We were trying to preserve the whites and were forbidden to use white paint and blacks, until we had reach the final stage of thicker colour. It was more like a watercolour aproach.

I really used to think that it was the most common medium worldwide, alot more than acrylics because its accesible and cheap.

12-31-2013, 08:41 PM
Dear Sir,
I paint with gouache and oils. In the atelier where I study it is required to master gouache techniques as the medium to study composition, tiling, etc. Gouache used to be a relatively inexpensive medium to paint with. This days it is very overpriced. To learn how to paint with gouache I recommend to use economic [$6-8 dollars/30 sheets] Canson XL watercolor cold press; I paint on the smooth [back] side of the paper. Instead of buying expensive brands I buy Dick Blick's Premium Tempera. This tempera is high quality and with very good pigment concentration. A pint of color goes for about $8.00; they will last you for a long time. Please see my blog for some example of the results I have had using these inexpensive media at my artharmonics blog.

01-02-2014, 01:27 PM
Hi Oil Painter, it would be really nice if you could elaborate on the techniques you use to paint with gouache (or tempera). I'm someone else who has looked for gouache tutorials and has not found any that were really very helpful.

Also, I asked in another thread, but what about the DB Premium Tempera you use - would you feel ok about selling a painting done with it? (Your paintings are beautiful and I would think that people would want to buy them.) I see that the tempera is supposedly lightfast but seems to be more for school children than the serious artist. From your reply above, I'm assuming you use it for practice?


01-02-2014, 02:54 PM
whoops, link already posted

01-05-2014, 03:23 PM

I will be happy to answer the questions:

Yes, I use gouache to determine composition and color before starting a large oil painting. My gouache studies are no larger than 6x8". In that sense I guess I could call it painting for practice. If you could see the original art painted with Dick Blick's premium tempera you would see the same beautiful matte finish you see in the more expensive finely ground pigments like W&N and Lukas. As you know since a representational painting is mostly made up of grayed out colors, pigment concentration is not a big issue. For example, I have found that the blue and violet color in Dick Blick’s line of premium tempera have low pigment concentration. So, I simple use more pigment; I know that some expensive brands have the same problem anyways. Permanency is not a big concern because my studies they are not usually artwork for sale.

To me, using an inexpensive brand to create preliminary artwork breaks the psychological barrier that prevents many artist/ art students from just sitting down, pouring some paint on the palette, and getting to the business solving the problems of a painting. To me, it is liberating to be able to use tempera –sold for school children- to create something beautiful. In my years of teaching art, I have found that competency as revealed not by schooling but by the quality of the artwork, is the product of a lot of “mileage”, intense practice to understand the medium -its limitations and potential. In my experience it is not possible for students to do that if they are subconsciously thinking that they are using/wasting expensive paint. As regard being a serious artist, I become one, when I pour a blob of genuine Vasari cadmium yellow oil for doing final work.

On the other hand, I would not sell artwork done with Dick Blick tempera, but the small studies make wonderful gifts to potential customers and friends.
Regarding tutorials, yes, I am planning to post step by steps instruction in my blog very soon. Thank you for looking at my blog.

01-05-2014, 04:40 PM
Thanks for your post telling us more about the way you use tempera for studies. You're so right about it being intimidating to practice with such expensive art supplies and I'm sure the tempera does help break that psychological barrier!

Will look forward to any step by steps posted on your blog. Please let us know here when you have any posted.

Thanks again!