View Full Version : gouache

04-29-2007, 02:06 PM
how the h. can it be slowwwwwwwwed down? am using windsor and newton blending nedium. can't find anything else. any thoughts/tips?

Rose Queen
04-29-2007, 02:44 PM
Welcome to WetCanvas! :wave: I've moved your post to the Gouache forum, where you'll get the help you need.

If you require assistance navigating around the site, c'mon back over to the New User forum and we'll help you out!

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Old Tex
04-29-2007, 04:38 PM
Marianne, I wish I knew. I'm finding that's one of the frustrating peculiarities of gouache (that and the fact that my colors always seem to look different the next day). Not only does it dry fast on the painting, it also dries fast on the palette. I find myself squeezing out smaller & smaller amounts, and don't put out what I intend to use until I'm actually ready to use it. And still I end up trying to stick a brush into a dried glob. I've about given up trying to lay out a complete palette of colors before starting a painting. Maybe some of the others have some secrets.

04-29-2007, 05:36 PM
Hi Marianne,

I new to gouache, really new to gouache. I usually work with acrylics. I have found that even when my palette is dry I use a wet brush to work over that dry out colors and then I can mix that color with another on my plate. I am using a plastic plate with damp paper towels where I place my colors on. I spay over the paper napkins and paint often. I have even gone back and reuse mixed paint that is on my mixing spot (center of my plate) with a wet brush. I store this whole thing in a zip lock bag.

I also find that gouche drys faster then acrylics. so again I use a dampen brush to blend. Just learned that one today.

Maybe someone else as Ralph has stated has a secret we can all learn from.


04-29-2007, 05:49 PM
I always coat the paint on the palette with a drop of water, but even this dries out within a matter of minutes, but the dried paint can be remoistened. I work with it plein air, and often the paint dries on the brush before I can get it to the paper.

04-30-2007, 05:46 AM
"QUOTE=Old Tex
And still I end up trying to stick a brush into a dried glob. I've about given up trying to lay out a complete palette of colors before starting a painting. Maybe some of the others have some secrets."

This might help you keep the colors from drying too fast before they get on the paper ...
I have a plastic palette that has little clear plastic jars with lids that I use when I work with gouache. I put the paint (or mixes of colors) in the little jars and they sit in wells along the sides of the palette... then take out what you need and mix further on the center of the palette (or on another palette). I also lightly spray the contents of the jars with water before I quit for a session. The palette is called the "Colors To Go" palette and I ordered it from Jerry's Artarama in the US.
Looks like this:

I also found some little plastic jars, here in the Netherlands, with snap palstic lids almost the same size as the ones in the palette. A special kind of Dutch candy comes in them, but I doubt you have Zwart Wit Poeder in the US (it's an acquired taste I don't recommend *shudder*, unless you're Dutch.. Dutch husband loves the stuff so I have lots of these jars.).

But you never know where you might find something to use for a gouache jar...look around and think "creatively".


Richard Saylor
04-30-2007, 06:10 AM
The paint can be rehydrated after it has dried on the palette, similar to pan watercolors.

I sometimes use for a palette a rectangular plastic pan with a lid that I bought at the supermarket. Toss in a few pieces of wet sponge to keep the paint workable between painting sessions.

Compared to acrylics, gouache is very nice, since it stays water soluble.

04-30-2007, 08:30 AM
I don't know of any mediums that would slow it down, but I do like the feeling gouache has straight from the tube. Less water slows it down, but it also makes it thicker.

As for rewetting, it's much harder to get that thick application once the paint has dried on the palette. But if you put a bit of water on a dried chunk and wait a while, it'll soften up and you can get nearly full opacity.


04-30-2007, 01:40 PM
It's been a number of years since I did any work with gouache, but I'm interested in starting to use them again. I've been working with acrylics for several years and I'd like to pass on some tips on keeping your paints wet and workable for long periods of time. They'll work for both gouache and acrylics.

First, I would recommend using distilled water with your paints. There are just too many nasty minerals and other gunk in our tap water to be mixed with your expensive artist's paints. I use the distilled water only for mixing and diluting my paints, not for the general cleaning and rinsing of my brushes. I also keep distilled water in a fine-mist spray bottle to use to mist my paints on my palette from time to time to keep them moist.

When working with gouache, I usually followed the suggestions in a rather old book I have on gouache. It suggests using those small porcelain stacking dishes with recessed wells for squeezing out your colors. They come in many different sizes and configurations but typically they are small round tray-like dishes that have several round, recessed wells to hold your paint. They are not expensive and they are very easy to clean. After you squeeze your paint into one of the wells, the book recommends that you use an eyedropper to add just one or two drops of water to the paint, then mix it thoroughly into the paint until you get a good consistency. You most likely will have to add more water when you mix your colors anyway, so this little amount of water will not affect the quality or opacity of your paint. It does, however, help to keep the paint from drying out too quickly. If you notice the paint in the paint well getting a bit too thick or dry, add a bit more water, mix it in again and you're all set to go on painting.

Use that fine-mist spray bottle to spritz the paints on your palette from time to time to help keep them from drying out. You don't want to spray them with too much water. Just enough to moisten the surface again and let you go on painting. You'll get the hang of knowing how frequently to do this. It will vary depending upon the humidity level in the air where you are painting. In warmer weather, when the humidity is much higher, the paints should not dry out as rapidly as in very dry air.

Using a paint palette with these little recessed wells also helps to keep your paints moist longer because the curved surface of the well helps reduce the exposed surface area of your paint to the air. It's also easy to cover the porcelain palette dish with some plastic food wrap when you're done painting for the day. Just give the paint a little spritz with the distilled water in your misting bottle and then cover the dish tightly with the plastic wrap to store overnight. You should be able to keep your paints moist and workable for days or even weeks this way.

That's where the biggest advantage of distilled water comes in. If you are keeping a palette of paints such as gouache or acrylics wet for several days or even weeks, you could run into problems with mold developing in your paints. That should not be a problem if you use the distilled water. Tap water will encourage the formation of nasty gunk in such a moist environment.

Another option for a do-it-yourself "stay-wet" palette is to use two paper plates with a double layer of wet paper towels sandwiched in between. You need to use the coated type of paper plates for this, however. If you use really flimsy, uncoated paper plates, as soon as you begin dragging a wet brush over the surface to mix your paints, the paper will disintegrate and begin shedding little wads of paper into your paint. Definitely not fun. The paper plate on top is just porous enough to allow a bit of moisture from the paper towels to seep through and keep your paint moist without waterlogging it. It still helps to spritz the paints with your spray bottle from time to time. The nice thing about the "paper plate sandwich" is that you can slip it into a gallon-sized zip-loc food bag to seal it up overnight and keep your paints moist. You should be able to keep your paints moist this way for about a week, but keep an eagle eye out for any signs of mold growing on the paper plates or paper towels. If you spot any, time to toss that palette and start fresh with a new one.

These methods work well for acrylics and I've found they work well for gouache, too. Hope that helps a bit.


04-30-2007, 04:30 PM
Gouache dries quickly. That's it's nature. If you add an acrylic medium retarder to it, you're changing it into an acrylic paint, so you might as well use acrylics. You could add a humectant like glycerin or honey diluted in water. It causes the paint to hold in the moisture longer. Many brands include these already, but adding a small amount more can slow the drying rate down a tad. Not too much or it'll get sticky.

Old Tex
05-01-2007, 01:27 PM
A lot of great suggestions here! Thanks to Marianne for posting the question, and to everybody else for the ideas. I do make use of the dried gouache, using a wet brush, for washed areas and for blending. But I also use it in its opaque form, so some of these ideas are well worth trying.

maggie latham
05-09-2007, 07:44 AM
Good Morning!

My mediums are pastel and watercolor/ gouache (separately not mixed together)!

Gouache is just like watercolor in that you can reconstitute it with a spray or more water. Unlike Acrylic which dries to a plastic film and is solid.
I do not put a lot of colors out at once, mostly because I work with a very limited color palette within a painting. I use a lot of white, which is great for layering and creating a ‘veiled ‘effect. You can mix white gouache with watercolor pigments for a stronger color, but I like to keep them a little more separate. I sometimes also add gum arabic to my gouache, which keeps it workable longer and doesn’t dull so much. I use a lot of water with gouache, and layer colors on top op of each other as one would in watercolor glazing. White gouache is also great used as ‘body color’ under watercolor washes.

I have read that if you layer the gouache too thick, it will crack over time.

One other tip, I always have a separate water container for gouache if I am painting a piece with gouache and watercolor in the same painting, as the opaque nature of gouache (from the fillers and binders) contaminates any transparent passages of watercolor if you use the same brush and water.

If you want to experiment, try using gouache on wet watercolor paper, and create a blended wash in some of the passages. It can be helpful to draw a five by five inch grid on a large sheet of stretched watercolor paper, marking off the squares with masking tape or watercolor tape, and experiment with different techniques in each square. Making color and method of application notations. I do this when I am trying out new color combinations.

Stephen Quiller did a water media workshop video a little while ago, which explains in detail the differences and nuances of Gouache, watercolor, casein, and acrylic.

Hope this has been helpful



05-14-2007, 09:07 PM
how the h. can it be slowwwwwwwwed down? am using windsor and newton blending nedium. can't find anything else. any thoughts/tips?

When I work in gouache and I want some extra time to blend an area, I like to pre-wet the area I'm going to paint and then paint the gouache onto that dampened area. I keep a clean, soft and slightly damp filbert brush ready just to lightly stroke over the area that I want to blend out smoothly. I stroke the filbert brush very lightly over the paint and gently feather out a smooth blend or softened edge. I use the same method when I want soft, smooth blends with acrylic paints. I usually work on either watercolor paper or on watercolor canvas. Both surfaces are excellent for fluid techniques. I don't think this method works quite as well on a surface like gessoed canvas or gessoed board. But it's something to try.


05-23-2007, 02:45 PM
Some great ideas here. I mix my own colors with fresh egg yolk and I like to add a drop or so of glycerin. I find it pretty effective, but I work small. Like Judy, I also tend to mix up just bits at a time. While it may be a bit more difficult to exactly match the colors of the later bits (of the same color), that isn't a problem for me.

Sorry, I don't know where my brain was. Of course I'm talking about my work in egg tempera. However, the glycerin as a thickener and working in small bits of color at a time to prevent drying out are relevant to gouache. Hope I didn't confuse anyone.