View Full Version : Gouache limited palette for portraits, and tips?

04-03-2015, 12:24 AM
Hi again guys, wondering if I could get help with a small budgeted but versatile palette? I currently have Utretch art gouache, with
Titanium White
Ultramarine Blue
Yellow Ochre and
Burnt Sienna as my red.

It seems to work well, there's no real reason for me to have a purple and the umber-looking browns and blacks made possible have a great range, but when I need a 'pink', it's hard.
I know I can make the burnt-sienna+white a pink in a adjecent way but I'd much rather actually have it... but I only want three colors plus white.

I'm wanting to use M.graham gouache, and thought about using one of the following as a red and a blue. I'm sort of "set" regarding the yellow (ochre) and white (titanium)

Red: Either burnt sienna again or pyrrole red (which is Pr209 and Pr254)

Blue: Maybe ultramarine blue again or prussian blue (Pb27)

Which combination of 'red' and 'blue' will give me a good gamut while also having a natural/realistic color set for portraits?

And I previously and still do work in watercolors, I thought squeezing out a bunch as a 'pan' would be a good idea but it hasn't... I have to 'work it in'... and it feels more wasteful if I pour out a lot, even thought it's better in the long run since me wetting the dry/hardened gouache makes me have to ruin my brushes... any tips?

04-03-2015, 09:28 AM
Red: Either burnt sienna again or pyrrole red (which is Pr209 and Pr254)

Blue: Maybe ultramarine blue again or prussian blue (Pb27)

Which combination of 'red' and 'blue' will give me a good gamut while also having a natural/realistic color set for portraits?

You need some Red color to paint lips. Something, which can have a "Lipstick Red" color. I use PR209. This color you can add also to a flesh tint to make a non-brick colored face, to give a vivid rose undertone to it. A yellow ochre mixed with a Rose paint can make a pleasant flesh tint, Burnt sienna can't match.

Parramon recommended Prussian Blue and Alizarin Crimson.

04-03-2015, 09:42 AM
Parramon also recommended cad yellow medium as his yellow. His limited palette consisted of Prussian, Alizarin, Cad YM and White. He achieved an almost limitless list of colors with these four colors. I would guess your could achieve 95% of all your tones and colors with nothing but these four colors.

Personally, I would add a black and burnt umber, but that's just me.

04-03-2015, 10:29 AM
Tip with gouache (and I just started with gouache and I have M. Grahams) that I just learned from others:

Pre-wet and spritz your palette by using a mini mister or small spray bottle (I use distilled water.) and let it soak in for a few minutes depending on the size of your paint piles.

Roz Stendhal who works in gouache and uses this brand says that she spritzes and usually after 10 or 15 minutes of sketching her gouache is workable.

I'm still figuring out my best methods, but for now, I'm just squirting small piles and misting as I hate wasting paint, too. I'm sure as I get more of a feel and confidence that the paint will rewet, I'll squirt out bigger and bigger piles.

I'm also considering roughing up my white palette a bit with a sponge once I use up the wells. ..I think it's almost too slick for the gouache to stick in the wells. (the ivory black seems to be the worst one for wanting to crumble into bits) But, I haven't had any problems since I've used smaller bits and squirt more as needed.

04-03-2015, 11:42 AM
Phthalo, I'd recommend Quinacridone Magenta (PR 122) as your primary red. It will give you an incredible range for landscapes, and it can also work for florals.

04-04-2015, 02:56 PM
If you are looking to make a limited earth palette in gouache I absolutely recommend Schimncke's English red, it's the only single pigment mid earth red available in gouache that doesn't lean too orange and makes wonderfully nice pinks with white and muted purples with ultramarine. It's probably my favorite gouache color, incredibly versatile and forgiving.
If you want a really purple earth I'd suggest using ordinary watercolor versions of Indian red or caput mortuum, but again, you can get the same colors with ultramarine and English red. Burnt sienna, though useful, is much too orange to serve as the only red in such a palette, mixtures with ultramarine will be too green.

04-06-2015, 08:52 PM
I recommend alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue light if you are going to be doing figures/portraits. Alizarin is the best mixer of the reds; I find pyrrol is the worst.

04-07-2015, 03:29 AM
I use art spectrum gouache, so it might be different.

I find I can cover all my the colours I need by using yellow (py1), rose (pr169) and pthalo blue (pb15.3) plus titanium white (cant remember the code as I grind my own. I blend using triads of the three.

Each brand has different properties due to the differing ratio of pigment:gum:calcium carbonate(whiting/chalk) in its mix.

I find with a higher proportion of gum the mix needs much longer to soften after spraying with water, but if you grind chalk into the mix then it gets easier to wet and work with in a much shorter time, however be careful not to add too much or you dilute the colour (in some paints like pthalo blue adding chalk actually seems to increase the chroma) and turn the paint into a medium much more suited to impasto.

I usually let my paint dry on my pallete in whatever mix I happened to use last, then next time I just add a couple of dots of fresh paint to work the dry colour into.

Anyway good luck, gouache is a fantastic medium. Btw I would recommend using cheap brushes, gouache is pretty abrasive.

04-07-2015, 09:30 AM
Charles Reid uses the following for flesh tones in watercolor: Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cerulean Blue. 2/3 red, 1/3 yellow. Raw Sienna in shadow areas as a second yellow. Sometimes yellow ochre.

Working in washes and mixing on the paper. His style is very loose.