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Go Back   WetCanvas > Explore Media > Casein, Gouache, and Egg Tempera
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Old 03-08-2018, 08:26 PM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Gouache or not

I've been making my own paints from pigment dispersions and a binder. I've made casein, but lately I've been using just gum arabic and maybe aquapasto, which is a gel composed of gum arabic and fumed silica, which is translucent and which has historically been used in watercolor. This combo gives me a mostly opaque paint on account of the pigment load rather than any opacifiers. Watercolor can be painted opaquely or transparently; there's no rule that it has to be one or the other. Although transparent is more common nowadays, opaque was more common in the 19th C.

I'm calling this watercolor, because my understanding of gouache has been that it means either a) an opacifier has been added and/or b) the pigment particles are ground bigger than watercolor pigments so that they sit on top of the support more and are therefore more opaque. But neither of these is the case with the pigment dispersions I'm using. They are actually ground to be used in acrylics but can be used with any water media binder.

Some people are telling me I am creating gouache, but I think it's still watercolor. I want to identify it correctly.

Last edited by Harold Roth : 03-08-2018 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 03-10-2018, 05:13 PM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Gouache or not

Well, I guess I can take comfort in the fact that in a forum dedicated to gouache, no one can define it.
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Old 03-11-2018, 04:19 AM
Martin1974 Martin1974 is offline
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Re: Gouache or not

Hi Harold,
the books I checked agree with you. Todays gouache consists of an opaficier of some sort. So one don't has to add opaque white anymore as it was the case when in the 19th Century transparent watercolor (Aquarelle) and gouache where chemically identical, only different painting technics.
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Old 03-11-2018, 04:20 AM
Martin1974 Martin1974 is offline
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Re: Gouache or not

Hi Harold,
the books I checked agree with you. Todays gouache consists of an opaficier of some sort. So one don't has to add opaque white anymore as it was the case when in the 19th Century transparent watercolor (Aquarelle) and opaque watercolor (Gouache) where chemically identical, only different painting technics.
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Old 03-29-2018, 03:27 PM
Trond Trond is offline
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Re: Gouache or not

There is no clear distinction, as pointed out in Ralph Mayer's handbook, apart from how brands choose to name their paints and a vague understanding that gouache is supposed to be more opaque than watercolor (but many brands of gouache contain some transparent colors, and many brands of watercolor include opaque white). So watercolor/gouache would be the only medium (to my knowledge) that is classified according to how you use it, which is a bit silly.

Interesting side note: I have read some technical examinations of ancient Egyptian wall paintings. For the most part, they ground their colors in gum arabic, and applied it in rather opaque flat areas of paint. So you could say that the Ancient Egyptians painted in gouache Some of the paintings seem to have been glazed (or "varnished") with egg white afterwards.
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Old 03-29-2018, 09:08 PM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Gouache or not

That is indeed interesting about using egg white for a varnish.
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