Today's post is all about Gouache! No, it's not a type of pasta, and it's not a fancy custard you eat with a scone.
Gouache ("gwash") is often described as a perfect cross between of watercolor and acrylic paint.
Gouache doesn't fully "cure" once it dries. You can wet & manipulate the paint indefinitely. (So in order to finish a piece and "protect it" you'll need to seal it)
It dries completely matte. Some people seal with a gloss or semi-gloss finish in order to protect it as well as bring out the full depth of colors (much like you would varnish an acrylic or oil painting). I actually enjoy the matte look, and it is really easy to photograph!
I've been ramping up my practice with gouache, trying to find a process that works for me, that I really enjoy.
Coming from a self-taught background in acrylic and watercolor has made it an easy transition, and I'm starting to realize that this could be the perfect medium for me.
The cool thing about Gouache is that it flourishes with water as well as on it's own, nice and thick (opaque).
It is easy to combine with watercolor and acrylic paint, but I prefer it on its own.
I've been experimenting a ton with various methods. The hardest thing to get used to is how fast it dries on my palette. If I pour the paint onto my palette, it dries within about 30 minutes (especially when I'm in a dry climate like Denver).
The most effective solution I've found is simple:
1. Use a damp paper towel, and put small dabs of gouache directly on it. The pigment will bleed a bit, but it stays moist for longer.
2. Use a combination of a sealable palette, a Sta-Wet palette sponge & paper. This keeps the paint moist for days. Just be careful not to keep it sealed too long, it may develop mold after a couple weeks.
This technique worked great for me when I took my gouache out for plein air painting, as well as in the studio!
Note: even if the gouache dries into a solid pile of pigment, you can still wet it and use it (much like dried watercolor) - it just doesn't spread as easily as when it's fresh.
I think it's going to be a while before I really get used to this medium, but I have to say it is SO enjoyable!! It's an incredibly versatile tool and I especially enjoy it for conceptual work.
Let me know if you have any tips and tricks that work for you!