View Full Version : How to work with Gouache, Newbee

04-26-2007, 07:01 PM
Hello to all,

I usually hang around the acrylic forum but have decided to give gouache a try. What I'd like to know is do you apply it in the same manner as acrylic, such as darks, middle tone and lights or is it more middle tone, lights then darks?

I thank you for any information that you can give me and happy painting.:wave:


04-26-2007, 09:16 PM
I usually use gouache on toned paper for quick colour sketches or trials, e.g. on grey paper or ordinary brown paper. The paper works as a middle tone which enables one to go straight in with both lights and darks.

04-27-2007, 08:27 AM
Hi Yvette!

Welcome to gouache. I hope you like it.

I'm still learning, but I find gouache works best when it isn't layered. I sometimes do a wash layer and paint over that, but opaque application is tough to paint over. The darn stuff lifts.

If you are going to layer, I'd suggest going dark-to-light. It's hard to paint darks over lights, due to the lifting tendency. If you just dab it on top and don't use many brush-strokes, it doesn't much matter what order you do. But If you try to paint a large dark area over a light one, you'll end up with mud that's in-between the two shades. With light over dark, you might lift, but if you do, the paper color shows through - so as long as the paper is light-colored, it works OK.


04-27-2007, 12:15 PM
Thank you Mary Adam and Melyman for the information. I realize that gouache lifts when painting over layers. I do like the way that I can blend it with a damp brush. I read somewhere that you can work it as watercolor, which I have no clue about or oils which the tech are similiar to acrylics. I'm painting a bird right now and if it comes out alright, I'll put it on.

Again its nice to ask for help and receive it. Wetcanvas is an excellent group of people.

Thank you to both of you for your response.


Old Tex
04-27-2007, 01:10 PM
Hey Yvette, I'm a little slow getting in on this, but I'm discovering one can do a lot of different things with gouache as long as you take it slowly and carefully. I don't worry about brush strokes in my work, so I tend to work dark on light, light on dark, touch up, rework, etc. For me, the key is a light touch and getting the paint to the right consistency.

04-27-2007, 03:42 PM
Hi Old Tex, I'm starting to get the hang of it with gouache and fine that you are right, a light touch. I'm beginning to like working with this stuff. I messed up on my bird and took a small sponge and wiped it away. Ofcouse, I had guesso my watercolor paper first. I find that working from light to dark is working for me. Later on I'll post my bird on to see what you and the others think.

Thanks for responding to my question. There is not much information on working with this medium.


04-27-2007, 06:37 PM
Meg made a good point about opacity you should keep in mind as well. It's not so much about values of the layers, although that's important to when mixing equal viscosity, but the layering of thick over thin/ undiluted over diluted. You may find it just as easy to work dark to light, if that first darker layer is more diluted. A delicate touch is not so necessary in that case. Your touch is important if the previous layer has roughly the same amount of paint as the one you're adding. You don't want to overwork the application of paint then, and if the values are close they're less likely to go muddy (hope that makes sense.)

Also, :p some paints even straight from the tube are rather transparent, and won't cover as well as others. Different brands of paint also cover better with the same color than others.

04-27-2007, 07:19 PM
I start a guoache with very neutral and highly diluted paint, keep the darks on the diluted side, and work the lights in with increasing opacity and paint thickness. This way I can work in layers without 'lifting'.

04-27-2007, 08:33 PM
Hi David and Scott,

I know about mud. The first attempt turned to mud. I just couldn't figure how in the world to work this out. This is so different then acrylic. My second attempt at lease I know its a bird on a branch which I will be posting next on another thread. Please I need your all your help to learn. I really love this medium. The beauty of the subject is more on a gently note. Acrylics I find are harsh. I really appreciate all your suggestions. I am playing and will be trying darks on a thin note and lights on a heavy note.

Thanks and please make sure you check out my bird "Rose-breasted Grosbeak" and C&C are appreciated.


07-26-2007, 02:01 PM
okay, so I see that you can't layer with this. It's alla prima, and that's it, right?

07-30-2007, 04:05 AM
have also taken an instant liking to gouache.I like to work on canvas with pastel primer.The layering thing,yea difficult,have tried using fixative,but it still lifts.What I have started doing is doing a top layer in very thinned oils,works wonderfully well.I was in my local art shop the other day and discovered they had clear pastel primer,so am going to try using a fixative and then going over it with the clear primer.I think it should work,will keep u posted.