View Full Version : Underpainting Gouache

12-10-2006, 03:44 PM
Hey everyone,

I'm working on a portrait in gouache, and I did some underpainting experiments. I found that for the most part, it didn't work too well - either it was too opaque to see any evidence of the underpainting, or it was watery enough to lift the underpainting. :(

I'm working on a blog post that'll show what worked and what didn't, but in the meantime... does anyone have experience with underpainting in gouache? Any tips?


12-11-2006, 01:27 PM
I'm a rank amateur at gouache, but it seems to me that if you do the base colour and then allow the second colour to dry a little before applying it, you might get the result you want.

Emphasis on "might", of course.

Richard Saylor
12-11-2006, 04:42 PM
The usual way to layer gouache without lifting is to use thicker paint for each subsequent layer, but of course this increases opacity and the tendency to obliterate the underpainting.

Sometimes you can lay a transparent wash (glaze) over an underpainting, but you get only one shot at this. I.e., your brushstrokes must not overlap (or there will be lifting in the overlap), and the brush cannot be too soggy. Obviously this is a risky procedure.

A drybrush "scumble" is a safe way to avoid totally obliterating an underpainting. This works best on fairly coarse canvas or cold press or rough watercolor paper. Use fairly dry paint on a dry brush and drag it lightly across the underpainting, so that paint is only deposited on the high points of the canvas or paper. (There are variants of this process, but they are more difficult to describe.)


12-11-2006, 07:26 PM
howyadoin and Richard,

Thanks very much for your replies! All your suggestions sound promising. I will probably not attempt underpainting this time (since the procedures seem risky for someone who's never tried them before), and the portrait needs to be done by Christmas. But I'll definitely try them out next time around.