Mixing watercolour and Gouache plus other mediums for quick portraits.

About twenty years ago when I was living and working in the Magical Town of Crickadoon,  (Crickhowell, Wales), I found myself experiencing a block….it happens…it’s quite normal.     The key is to find ways of moving through the block…..

The three ways that help me to do this, are – walking – visiting museums and allowing myself to PLAY.

In this instance, I set up long tables in my studio with large sheets of paper….and began to throw paint around…..anything, just to get the juices flowing.    I wet the paper, adding a mix of watercolour and gouache and watched with great excitement as the transparent watercolour mixed with the opaque gouache……Bingo….I had broken through the block:)

Initial sketch of Claudia – using watercolour/gouache on a gouache colour ground which had spatters of paint on it. 460616_10151667714060396_2124306232_o

Until this point, I had only used transparent watercolours on white or tinted papers, but now with the opaque quality of gouache, I was able to paint over colour grounds.      Plus I loved the interaction of transparent watercolour with the opaque gouache. 

Claudia (2


I would urge anyone who feels a little stuck….to PLAY.        

It is not necessary to use expensive watercolours or paper….newspaper, brown wrapping paper, wallpaper lining, and inexpensive paints will do…..the key is to just do it. 

Charcoal sketch of Claudia – Claudia is an actress and so has projected many different personas – 1995

20-11-15 - 1 (951) 

Small oil on panel sketch of Claudia when she visited me in Wales – 199520-11-15 - 1 (324)

The first portrait I ever painted of Claudia when she was 17 years old.     Now in her fifties she is a successful actress and director of theatre.          oil on canvas. 10996105_10153048192965396_8451570209771699384_o-3

Patricia is an actress friend of Claudia.     She and I spent a week together in Brittany France 2019 when I made numerous sketches of her.    watercolour on white paper.    Like Claudia she is very expressive and a joy to work with. 

Observing the sitter from different points of view is important.

If you are lacking a model…look in the mirror:)


15 thoughts on “Mixing watercolour and Gouache plus other mediums for quick portraits.

  1. Jet Eliot

    Really enjoyed hearing how you loosen up the artist’s block, Janet. I found the series of Claudia portraits simply enchanting. Wonderful to see how differently the mediums express.


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