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Old 09-09-2006, 11:35 PM
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Ian Bruce Ian Bruce is offline
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Watercolor brushes and gouache?

I picked up a hint of a problem with using your best sable watercolor brushes with gouache. There was an implication that brands and colors of gouache that contain chalk may harm a sable brush. I have read that the best brands of gouache do not use chalk and that they obtain their opacity instead with very high concentrations of the same pigments used in watercolor. I have also read that some particularly powerful pigments like the pthalos always contain an extender to tame them a little--possibly, not chalk? What is the story here? I would imagine that an extender free gouache would make very transparent, watercolor-like, washes and one that contained large amounts of filler would not.

And can anyone give me some opinions, and pro-and-con, on acrylic versus traditional gouache? Is Turner a decent brand of gouache? The sale price at Jerry's is very good right now! Please excuse all the questions--I am about to embark on experimenting with gouache for the first time.
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Old 09-10-2006, 12:26 AM
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Richard Saylor Richard Saylor is offline
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

I use only synthetic watercolor brushes with gouache (and occasionally hog bristle brushes). The manufacturers are not very open about what they put in their paint. However, it's easy to make your own gouache. Just mix dry pigment with gum arabic solution. Use enough pigment to make a thick paste. That's it. It's kind of a hassle to make gum arabic solution, but Winsor & Newton has it ready-made, and it is probably okay. Gamblin produces some inexpensive pigments. I haven't made my own gouache in a long time, but I'm going to order the materials soon and give it a try. With the same pigments, one can also make casein and egg tempera paint.

I really think that art products should state on the label if they contain chalk. For example, I strongly suspect that most ready-made acrylic gouache contains chalk (calcium carbonate), and it can indeed be very hard on brushes. Sometimes the MSD sheet for a product states all the ingredients.
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Old 09-10-2006, 10:47 AM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

That's the first time I've heard of that. I've used natural hair and synthetics with gouache and never noticed a problem. The "designer" labled gouache paints are the ones that typically have the chalk or possibly blanc fixe (barium sulfate) extender. Graham and Schmincke claim to use no fillers, or extenders in their brands, and they're great paints. Holbien and Da Vinci I'm not sure about; although, I like them.

I've never used Turner, but I've tried Holbien's Acryla out of curiosity, and it was okay. It seemed like a rather matte acrylic paint. Very liquid like Golden's Fluid paint. The permanence of it when dry makes it less interesting to me, so I stuck with traditional gouache.
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:09 PM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

Thank you, Richard. Thank you, David. You've been very helpful! Making your own paint sounds intriguing. I imagine you could get tubes and a tube filling machine. I don't know if I would want to deal with jars and cans. I am looking forward to experimenting with gouache, though I feel a little guilty about starting a new water-based medium without attaining a reasonable degree of facility with my primary medium, transparent water colors. I like to master things, and would regret it if I fell into using gouache to get an effect that I should be able to get with transparent water color with a little more practice. I'd like to use both to the full extent of their range of possibilities. A few more years of practise should do it!
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Old 09-12-2006, 07:03 AM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

Hmmm...I always assumed there had to be a chalk-like substance in gouache; otherwise it would be no different from watercolor, right? They have to be able to get the opacity from somewhere. Some pigments are of course opague on their own, but other aren't.

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Old 09-12-2006, 08:35 AM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieWG
Hmmm...I always assumed there had to be a chalk-like substance in gouache; otherwise it would be no different from watercolor, right? They have to be able to get the opacity from somewhere. Some pigments are of course opague on their own, but other aren't.

Jamie
W&N, among others, gives the impression that the opacity of their gouache is due only to greater pigment load, not additives. Also, the opacity of different colors does vary greatly, due to the inherent opacity of the pigment. Moreover, I believe the pigment is ground more coursely for gouache than for transparent watercolors, which also affects opacity.

In _Formulas for Painters_ by Robert Massey, the only difference I noticed between the formulas for watercolors and gouache is the pigment load.

I use watercolors and gouache more or less interchangeably in paintings, since some colors I like are not produced in a gouache formulation. If I need more opacity in a color, whether watercolor or gouache, I can usually get it by adding a little titanium white. I'm actually planning to experiment with whiting (chalk, calcium carbonate) to see if that is a better opacifier than titanium white (which can have too much whitening effect).

What surprises me is that Shiva casein is the most opaque paint I've ever used, and I've used all of the common (and not so common) paint mediums over the course of well over 50 years of splashing paint around. It can be addictive. I suppose it is due to the casein medium.

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Old 09-14-2006, 06:56 AM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

Thanks Richard and David for generously sharing your knowledge here , I'm learning a lot!
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:27 PM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

Talking pigments is very interesting, and worth researching.

I separate my brushes; acrylic brushes, water color brushes and Gouache brushes.

I never use my W&N series 7 red stable brushes for anything but water!
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:59 PM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Saylor
W&N, among others, gives the impression that the opacity of their gouache is due only to greater pigment load, not additives.
I've noticed that most of the gouache brands give that impression - they'll state the standard "the best brands add no chalk" - but without coming right out and stating that they themselves do not do so. Which makes me suspicious. (If any of them do state specifically that they use no chalk, well, it would easy enough for them to say so. Barium white is a cheap filler and is what most of them use these days anyway - not chalk.)

I would "trust" only the brands that come right out and state exactly what is and is not in their paint products. Not many of them like to do that.

I think the main problem with using fine watercolor brushes with gouache is not the chalkiness of the gouache itself, but rather with technique. I, and other gouache painters I know, wind up scrubbing pretty vigorously with this medium, both on the palette and on the paper. It takes a sturdy brush to stand up to mistreatment like I give them and still last a while. The ones I have had good luck with are the Robert Simmons synthetic sable brushes.
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:02 PM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Briar Rose
I never use my W&N series 7 red stable brushes for anything but water!
I agree with that - I have one Series 7 brush, and use it only with ink, most of it non-pigmented. It's a nice sharp brush!
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Old 12-10-2009, 11:41 PM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

yes, they are well worth it. You can find excellent prices on e-bay for them. I have #4, 5, 7 and 8. I was blessed by my bestfriend and he gifted them to me. One artist to another.

I love them. I meant to write I use them only for watercolor. Not just water! I would love to have the whole series! And someday I just might. There is a HUGE difference. HUGE!
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:41 AM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Briar Rose
I meant to write I use them only for watercolor. Not just water!
I figured that's what you meant - when I saw your avatar it seemed to me you must be into medieval and renaissance art, and I've seen at least one or two medieval texts refer to water-based media as "water" - as in: "Do you wish to make a water to temper all colours."

Or maybe it's only me so geeky!
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Old 12-13-2009, 07:38 AM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

Quote:
Originally Posted by llawrence
I think the main problem with using fine watercolor brushes with gouache is not the chalkiness of the gouache itself, but rather with technique. I, and other gouache painters I know, wind up scrubbing pretty vigorously with this medium, both on the palette and on the paper. It takes a sturdy brush to stand up to mistreatment like I give them and still last a while. The ones I have had good luck with are the Robert Simmons synthetic sable brushes.

Your comment about technique and being more likely to scrub is quite true. If I am painting gently, I see no problem in using watercolor sables for gouache. I do it, including with my Series 7, and have never experienced a problem with damage to the hair.

One thing to remember is that paints like Turner Acryla Gouache have an acrylic based binder, not gum arabic, and that has a much greater chance of damaging your delicate sables.

I agree, The Robert Simmons White Sables are a nice synthetic
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Old 12-13-2009, 12:09 PM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

A good brand of Gouache used normally (Don't let a big hunk of paint totally dry up on the hair at a weird angle) shouldn't harm any type of brush and from 30 years of experience, surely not the Winsor & Newton Series 7.
Coloured Dyes, Colour Inks (Doc. Martin, Ecoline, Pebeo, and such) are deathly to natural hair brushes though. (Such as is best quality human shampoo! Did you know that? Makes you think...)
Wash up your brushes with a lot of cold water. If used with Watrecolour or Gouache, this should be enough. If used with Acrylics or Oil, or India Ink, etc..., the same plus some as natural as possible soap, or Artists' Soap.
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Old 12-13-2009, 12:37 PM
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Re: Watercolor brushes and gouache?

Natural hair brushes are perfectly fine to use with gouache. I wouldn't recommend soaking them in a jar of water, but you shouldn't be doing that anyway. There's nothing in gouache that would be any more damaging to a brush than watercolor.

The only thing to note is that some absorbant surfaces like Ampersand's Aquabord or Fredrix's watercolor canvas which work well with gouache have an acrylic texture that can be brutal on any type of brush so I wouldn't recommend using expensive ones on them.
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