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:)


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

  1. Emma Cownie

    That’s interesting idea to use watercolours with gouache – when I tried gouache I got annoyed that it wasn’t more like watercolour, but I can see they would work well together.

  2. Jet Eliot

    So incredible to see one expressive painting after another here, Janet. I also enjoyed your words and encouragement on hitting a block and how to cruise over it. I find that final painting truly moving. Cheers to you, Janet.

  3. davidjrogersftw

    Janet, Jet is right–you lay out one adorable work after another in this post and also clever ideas for overcoming blocks. Where painting is concerned I have a permanent block which you and I have discussed–but I’m not a painter, but a writer. Now where that is concerned I’ve never been blocked for a single moment. Maybe if I use your techniques I can overcoe my oainting block. Thank you for the post.

  4. snowbird

    Yes, we all get a block sometime or other, love how you got out of yours! Wonderful painting, I adored that charcoal sketch of Claudia, those eyes are SO alive! Hugs my friend.xxx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.