Jumping into this thread a little late, but have been following with interest, so thought I would share my own thoughts:
I use W&N all the time …both watercolour and gouache and they are good quality. They are not especially ‘cheap’ or produce ‘cheap wimpy looking paintings’……producing rich colourful paintings is more about knowing how to handle the medium and how much pigment you use.
Gouache has been traditionally used by illustrators because of its matte opaque finish that reproduce well.
Gouache can be used with many different techniques, used thinly or thickly, on paper or panel. It can be used on gessoed panels and then varnished with a spray varnish, however this is not favoured by everyone. Ralph Parker (Old Tex) is an artist here on WC who uses this method almost exclusively.
As I use watercolour paper, I prefer to frame my paintings under glass, traditionally with a mat.
The type of brushes you use, the amount of pigment to water and type of support will determine the finished outcome and 'look' of your panting.
There are as many different techniques in using gouache as there are in watercolour, so it is important to experiment and find out which techniques work for you and your style of paintings. Gouache is very effective used on coloured printmaking papers such as black Somerset velvet paper (see Deborah Secor’s recent gouache paintings).
I have recently started a new art blog about my own experiences in painting with gouache…….there is a link to my gouache blog in my signature line below.
Gouache is a wonderful versatile medium and the more educated people (and artists) are about it ……the more it will be taken as the serious fine art medium it is.