View Full Version : Are single pigment paints important in gouache?

Ian Bruce
09-14-2006, 08:35 PM
I am accustomed to using mostly single pigment paints in transparent watercolor. My new set of Turner gouache does list pigments--but every color uses two or three pigments. Is this less of a consideration in gouache? The names of the colors are also not the standard names, which I find irritating. I am doing a portrait class. The instructor uses acrylics but I was hoping to follow along in gouache. I imagined that this would be feasible since both media are opaque. I have misgivings about the multi-pigment colors, however. The instructor mixes brown from black and cadmium red. My new set has two reds, neither of which is called cadmium, or looks like it. The black is analine. That is not, to my knowledge, a standard black, like lamp black, and I suspect my color mixes are going to vary. Perhaps the problem is that Turner Design acrylic is not an artist grade. It is not cheap, however, (though I got it on sale) and I was attracted by its claim to have less bleed-through than most gouaches. Are the artists gouaches more likely to be single pigment and use conventional color nomenclature?

09-14-2006, 09:28 PM
Not really.

Trying to match a different paint to the instructor who's using acrylics could be difficult in any medium, even with oils, as there are some pigments that are exclusive to acrylics. I couldn't tell you how to match a Quinacridone Red, for example. You might try to get his planned palette, maybe with some color swatches, and match them as best you can in advance, assuming you haven't already.

The color code label (PR#, PY#, etc.) appears on my tubes of Da Vinci, but not on the W&N gouache paints I have. Don't know why they don't use the numbers, since they do on their oils. Those are the only gouache tubes I have hand right now. Also, the pigment numbers aren't always that helpful. Burnt Umber and Raw Umber are both PBr7.

Non-standard names is not uncommon. Holbien has some odd-ball names. W&N has a "mistletoe Green?" It's annoying. They do, however, have the more common names as well.

I also know from experience, that even different brands of the same medium are not the same color. Naples Yellow can be bright yellow or slightly grey.

Richard Saylor
09-14-2006, 10:02 PM
...The color code label (PR#, PY#, etc.) appears on my tubes of Da Vinci, but not on the W&N gouache paints I have...W&N lists the pigment color codes for gouache on their web site.

I would rather use single pigment colors, as they seem to produce cleaner mixtures. Also, it is easier to predict the result of mixing single pigment colors. I'm concerned about getting muddiness when a mixture contains too many different pigments.