View Full Version : Oh! my gouache

08-07-2001, 07:01 PM
Been finding my way around gouache in the last few months
and have come to respect it as a painting medium. You can
take all sorts of liberties when it's dry. It lifts easily so that
you can lighten areas, and it's great mixing the colours on
the paper. I tend to use it like watercolour in watery strong
washes rather than thicker techniques like straight from the
tube. You can always build up to that though, if you wanted to.
I'm still find gradating a chore at times, especially if trying to
apply it over a dried wash. You pick up the underlying colour,so
you have to account for that by ensuring the colour you are about
to apply will not make mud with the first wash which is dry, if you
know what I mean. I have found some ingenious ways of making
the mud work for me when it occurs. Another thing is when you
apply paint to an already painted area, that area becomes more
absorbent so it tries to suck the paint from your brush tip and may
flood the area, try using a drier brush and thicker wash if you can.
Gouache is far more economical than watercolour (which I find to be
very expensive), but once you crack its code a whole new painting
experience opens up to you. Especially if you enjoy using the
watercolour method of making use of the white of the paper for
your lights.
The only problem left, is what to paint? that's where I'm getting
stuck. I want to paint things I have never seen and sometimes
can hardly imagine. I'd like to know how you think I'm getting on
because this artistic journey is taking me to some really weird places.

The following montage is made up of gouache paintings approx 9"x6".


08-08-2001, 02:47 AM
nice. unexpected.

08-08-2001, 07:56 AM
You want someone else to tell you WHAT to paint?

Looks like you've got a handle on the what, so guess I don't understand what you're really asking for.

08-08-2001, 09:04 AM
Hi Mame, thanks very much for taking time out to respond to my post. Sorry if my last paragraph was a little misleading. No, I don't want someone to tell me what to paint. What I said was "The only problem left, is what to paint? that's where I'm getting stuck. I want to paint things I have never seen and sometimes can hardly imagine".
.e.g. How can you paint something that you can't even imagine? I was just hoping to initiate some views on the thought processes involved in inventing abstract images and abstract ideas. I find this very taxing and difficult. That's all.

I then went on to say, "I'd like to know how you think I'm getting on because this artistic journey is taking me to some really weird places".
Once again, just trying to initiate some interesting discussion. It's good to get some views on your work from fellow artists. Your views would allow me to assess whether there is any value in continuing along the path I have been travelling. That's all.

I'll double check my posts next time and make certain they do mean what I intended them to mean.
I must admit, it was late when I posted last night and I was tired. So that's my excuse. I'll do better next time. Sorry, once again.

08-08-2001, 09:23 AM
Hey, don't sweat it. I'm an eccentric old broad and frankly know nothing. Just trying to get to the crux of things.

Everything you need to "paint what you can't even imagine" is already inside you. All you have to do is tap into it.

One way is to randomly slather darks and lights on to the canvas (or paper or whatever), let the "memory" in your hand have its way. "Look" for images/shapes that are really already there and set about birthing them. It's your world.
See? I don't have a clue.

08-08-2001, 09:57 AM
No Mame, it can't be as easy as you say. If it was I wouldn't be putting my work up for ridicule or critique. Do you mean to say that all the intellectualising and highbrow discussion about abstract art is just a case of the "Emperors New Clothes"?
It may come easy to you Mame, but for me, each new picture has so much of me in it, that I sometimes find it excrutiatingly difficult. Maybe I've got it wrong. I thought we were supposed to suffer for our art and our art wasn't any good unless we did suffer for it. Maybe that is a rumour started by established artists to stop any old Tom, Dick or Harry from jumping on the gravy train?

All the best to you.


08-08-2001, 11:50 AM
not to be rude salmon, but its difficult for all of us. Mame (i believe) is talking about getural automatism, or just automatism. the surrealist experimented with it, and though true automatism may not be a reality, we can let go while working to a certain degree to achive less conscious imagery.

What your saying sounds more ike kandinsky to me, painting unseen things. well, evertime you paint something your paintng something unseen in a sense, as no one has seen it that way before. if your trying to paint things that exist that are unseen (like the soul) yeah your trying something difficult i suppose. look at it this way though. if ya get it wrong, no one will ever know.


08-08-2001, 11:55 AM
There is a cultural feeling that an artist must 'suffer' for their work ... but honestly, I don't see how it can be any other way.

I think the reason so many people are afraid to explore their creativity is because of what it must reveal about them ... this is the heart of where that 'suffering' stems from- knowing yourself is no easy task, and then on top of that the almost universal disinterest in art is an affront to the path you just travelled to get there. Like you walked across china to climb some mountain, only to find a mcdonalds and a walmart at the top.

I think mame's approach just differs from yours- it's not an 'emperor's new clothes' type of deal, but rather letting the colors mix spontaneously on the canvas first, and then pulling your imagery from it ... you could easily start with a preset idea, but I personally enjoy the process of letting a painting speak to you ... like venturing into unknown territory.

Judging from the work you've shown here, I can see how this approach wouldn't work for you ... the white space requires a different level of forethought.

My only suggestion on how to 'unearth' the imagery you are imagining is to work on these ideas in a sketchbook, let yourself be free there, and then transfer the successful imaginings to paint.


08-08-2001, 04:31 PM
Amy/jheinrich good stuff you silver tongued devils, you.

Salmon - check out the color theory forum if you haven't already. In to glazing? Could be interesting.

08-09-2001, 06:15 AM
Many thanks for your input AmyH. I take on board what you said.

Many thanks for your input Mame. I will try the colour theory forum as soon as I get time.

Many thanks for your input jheinrich, just one point which I'd like to express.
You said," My only suggestion on how to 'unearth' the imagery you are imagining is to work on these ideas in a sketchbook, let yourself be free there, and then transfer the successful imaginings to paint."
I've tried that in the past and I couldn't work like that. I found that after putting my initial ideas onto paper, the subsequent painting loses an awful lot in the translation. The painting becomes a second generation of my original ideas and has lost all of it's spontaniety and life. I need to paint directly with just the one sitting. This does lead to mistakes from time to time but the rush and satisfaction one gets when things go well can be very gratifying.
Thanks for your suggestions though, it's good to hear from you.
Kind regards all,
John (Sam) Salmon.

08-10-2001, 12:36 PM
After viewing your tremendous output on your website, I must say, I find it impossible to believe you're stumped as to what to do next. Guess it happens to us all at least once, eh.
Dom is the king of looking up. You're the king of looking down. Let's do lunch. :)

08-10-2001, 12:39 PM
PS. Thanks for the tips on the gouche! I've used it before, and all I learned from it was: Use a few drops of ox gall in the water to get it to flow, and never go over a laid color. lol. You tempt me to get them back out and experiment this time. Thanks Sam!

08-11-2001, 10:33 AM
Thanks for the ox gall tip Sandi, I've got some somewhere but where? I must admit, I`ve had no problems with flow, but, it would be interesting to see what the effect would be.

Pleased you enjoyed my site.


John Salmon