View Full Version : Is Gouache in a Sketchbook a Good Idea?

10-27-2011, 05:53 PM
Hi Everyone. I've been enjoying poking around the forum and I appreciate all of the the good info I've picked up here. Seeing your lovely work is inspiring. I hope you can help me with a question I didn't see answered yet.

While I was pouring over my Christmas List (Dick Blick Wish List:) ), I decided that I should try gouache! How silly of me not to have tried it before! (Art Supply Addict!) Anyway, I work almost completely in a sketchbook. I carry it with me everywhere and I love looking back on the record it creates. I use HandBook Journals and I generally fill them with any media I can find - watercolours, graphite, ws graphite, wc pencils, pen and ink, and even collage, oil pastels, acrylics, and the occasional messy Conte Crayon. The paper takes washes well and the books are hardbound, which helps minimize smudging. But, I am worried about what I've read about gouache cracking and flaking. Do gouache pieces require more gentle handling than being smooshed in a book and bounced around in my bag? I don't mind a bit of mess, like with the Ops, but I'd hate to put these $$$ paints on my list, only to find my paintings fall off the page because gouache doesn't like being in a sketchbook environment.

Thanks in advance for your help!

:crossfingers: Noelle

10-27-2011, 09:33 PM
Fellow art supply addict right here. :)

Well, if your sketchbook handles watercolors alright, then it should handle gouache perfectly to some extent. I wouldn't recommend using gouache in your sketchbook if you plan to use it thickly (i.e.: mimicking acrylics or oil paints with it), but if you plan to paint relatively-thin with it, like you would watercolors, it should be fine. Washes will rarely crack unless you are bending the paper into something of a U-shape, which I doubt will happen with your sketchbook pages (having a hardbound sketchbook pretty much solves this). I would try putting thick swatches of gouache on a page to see if it'll crack -- depending on how you carry, store, and handle your sketchbook will determine whether or not it can hold up. Dried gouache in thick amounts is resilient, but brittle if too much stress is put on it.

10-27-2011, 10:40 PM
I've used gouache in sketchbook. . . its fun. And check out Roz's site, she does it all the time and review various sketchbooks to use it in too.

10-27-2011, 10:58 PM
I have used gouache in sketchbooks, and seen other artists use it as well. I do agree about not trying to use it too thickly, but otherwise I say try it! Gouache is a lovely, expressive medium.

You might like to ask about this in the WC Art Journals forum (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=502) too. Roz Stendahl uses lots of gouache (http://rozwoundup.typepad.com/roz_wound_up/gouache/) and mixed media in her handmade books, and Cathy Johnson's Artists' Journal Workshop (http://artistsjournalworkshop.blogspot.com/search/label/gouache) is another fun blog you might enjoy.

Edit: Oops, hi Rainy! :wave: Didn't see your post. Guess we both enjoy Roz's blog! :)

10-28-2011, 12:49 AM
I haven't had problems with my gouache in my sketchbooks, Noelle. Definitely art supply addict here! I don't use it thick though, I save that for paintings that'll get framed. Heavy multimedia or watercolor paper can take a bit more than thinner sketchbook pages, just like watercolor.

10-28-2011, 05:41 PM
Thanks, WMCD, Heidi, Rainy and Robert! That is very reassuring and I've put some tubes on my list. (At our house, December is one of the best times of the year to feed the addiction!)

Thanks for the extra info about Roz's work and Cathy Johnson's site, too. Very interesting!

I am looking forward to trying out gouache, should Santa see fit.:lol:

Thanks again!


10-29-2011, 12:27 AM
I love using gouache in journals and I use it pretty thick, many layers, definitely thicker than a wash. I've never had any cracking. I just checked some old journals and they look just fine.
I was just thinking, I wonder if the cheaper qouache that uses chalk as a filler, is more likely to crack.

Steve Orin
10-29-2011, 08:43 AM
Plan on changing your pallet though... Guache dries pretty hard & has just enuff binder to resist water. You may have to trash your pallet or use thinner to clean.

10-29-2011, 12:31 PM
Oooh, Cat1lady, that is good to know! I was afraid that I would have to be very careful and baby the gouache. I prefer to throw paint around a bit more freely, so I am glad to know this.

Steve, that is a very good point. I am trying to approach this as a whole new medium and not "opaque watercolor." The whole concept of wasting paint is new for me, as I either use wc pans or squeeze tubes onto my pallete until it is a grey mess that needs to be rinsed (think months!). I put some disposable pallettes on my list. It will take awhile to get used to figuring out what is the "right" amount to use, I think. I guess I can always use the left over paint to do quick gestures or flowers or something. Sometimes that is fun and produces neat results. This is a whole new adventure!

Thanks, guys!


10-29-2011, 02:17 PM
Here is a picture of the gouache I use in journals. The large pan on the left is Caran D'ache pan gouache. The little altoids can on the right is filled with M Graham gouache. The other paints are watercolor.
Notice the paint on the lid, I keep it an reuse it next time. I usually end up changing the color though. It dries quickly so I don't have to worry about it dripping into the pans and it re-wets easily. When I just got the pan paints I would clean the lid (with water) after every use but realized I could re-use the paint.
I also made a small pallet out of polymer clay for the Altoids can.
The M Graham paints harden but easily re-wet. I hadn't used the Altoids can for about a year, I put a few drops of paint in each color and let it sit for a while and then they worked just fine.

10-29-2011, 04:44 PM
Thanks for the info. You have some nice set-ups, there. I love paint boxes.

I was under the impression (obviously) that once dry, gouache was not likely to rewet. I was bummed about this, because I do like to pick up where I left off, last time, on my palette. It's always evolving. Even when the greys get to be too much, I prefer to just wipe it off and keep the main globs. (It's a little tray - no wells.) I will have to try this!:clap:

I'll still follow Steve's advice and keep 'em seperate.

Thanks again!


10-29-2011, 06:44 PM
Opps. I meant I put a drop of 'water' in each color.
I agree, I would keep the separate, you don't want to accidentally grab some gouache when you wanted transparent watercolor.

11-02-2011, 09:19 PM
It depends on what kind of sketchbook you use- I've taken to using a small sketchbook put out by Strathmore with smooth bristol pages, and it stands up considerably well to just about everything I've thrown at it (ink, paints, etc.) You can pick these up at Hobby Lobby for seven dollars or so (And Hobby Lobby always has a 40% off coupon you can print off from their website).
Gouache is really pretty versatile in my experience, though- like WMCD said, if your sketchbook handles watercolors well it should handle gouache. As for gouache rewetting after it dries, it will reconstitute itself fairly easily if you add water. Unlike many other paints, I don't think that gouache go through a chemical reaction when it dries- I may be wrong- either way, the introduction of water to dry gouache will bring it back quite easily.
You could also drop by Hobby Lobby and pick up a tiny little sample kit from Art Creation- I tend to use AC because they're fairly cheap and easily available (which essentially means nothing, but-), but they'd probably be a good place to start.

Steve Orin
11-03-2011, 08:03 AM
I've only used a few brands & they are not the same! One I have will rewet even after drying for weeks while my current favorite hardens so that water has little affect unless I really go at it. Means I have some control on rewetting but also that I can't let paints dry in my pallet overnight. I use plastic pallets & add a few drops of water in each, covering with tinfoil overnight. Such will last a few days.
Oh, also some guaches have enuff binder so as to have a bit more resilience.

11-03-2011, 03:01 PM
Steve, there are a few "acrylic gouache" brands out there made with acrylic binders - might that be the gouache you have that resists water and re-wetting? In my experience, regular gouache usually re-wets just fine after it dries, and I have tried at least five different brands including Talens, Schmincke, Maimeri, Winsor Newton, and Yarka.

Steve Orin
11-04-2011, 07:47 AM
Yup, thass it. The box even says so. I like it. Made by the Chinese (of course) & imported by Holbien. Didn't care for the W/N version's consistency.

11-04-2011, 10:20 AM
So much good info, here! I am hoping to be able to use the gouache on my fave kind of palette - a little dipe wipe box. I sqeeze paint on one side and throw the tubes in the other side. This works best if the paints can be re-wet and then the paint blobs can just live there and evolve.:) Thanks again for all of your answers.


Steve Orin
11-04-2011, 02:35 PM
Buy a nurse a 6-pac of beer in return for some injectors - without needles. Great for dispensing minute amounts of water to keep the paints wet.
I just found 3 pieces of old WC paper, 22x30 with deckled edges, that I squirreled away a decade or so ago. Now I'm working at generating enuff guts to try guache as a WC rather than my semi-oils methods. Been 20 years or more since I applied washes!