Tag Archives: winsor & newton designer gouache

Mixing watercolour and Gouache….the transparent with the opaque.

“No Experiment is ever a complete failure.   It can always be used as a bad example”.   Paul Dickson. 

watercolour/gouache – view from the Rhiwiau in the Brecon Beacons Wales Viewfromrhiwiau1master.jpgcompI am always asked what is the difference between watercolour and gouache.

Watercolour is a transparent medium.    Gouache is Opaque.    Watercolour and Gouache are intermixable….

In this post, I will show examples of pure watercolour as well as the mix of watercolour with gouache.

Pure watercolour – Brecon Beacons Wales 20181029_115354  About eighteen years ago – I was in my studio in Wales going through a period of feeling blocked.     Always a difficult time for a creative!

Over the years I have learned that the best thing to do when this happens is PLAY.     I put out big sheets of inexpensive paper on long trestle tables.    Using large brushes and anything else at hand I began to throw paint around.      I found some gouache, something I had not used before and began mixing it with watercolour and voila……..I loved the results and have been playing with the mix ever since.

I noticed that the gouache was bleeding into the transparent watercolour producing some very interesting marks.

The top swatch of colour is Winsor Violet watercolour mixed with Permanent White gouache on an orange background.  (more about colour grounds in a minute)

The second swatch is pure watercolour. 20181029_122319

The following portrait sequence of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.….shows in the first example, pure watercolour – where all the white you see is dry white paper.20181030_090534The second example shows pure watercolour on an orange ground.20181025_095849The third example shows a mix of watercolour and gouache.     When painting this way, permanent white gouache needs to be applied for highlights because all the white paper has been covered.  20181025_102005It’s important to note, that no one way is the right way.    The whole point of being a creative is to experiment….as my opening quote points out.

When I am going outside to paint I will prepare some of the pages in my sketchbooks with a ground so that if I wish to use a watercolour/gouache mix, I am ready to do so….which was the case here.    Ground colour naples yellow with a little burnt sienna. 20181029_140537 So what is a colour ground?        

It is when we cover our paper or canvas with a colour.     When using watercolour/gouache it’s important to remember that paper must be grounded at least 24 hours before using so that it is totally dry.    

I often use paint left on my palette for grounding.    If at the beginning of the work day I am struggling to warm up…grounding paper will often do the trick.

As you can see from this example, the paint does not have to be uniform or all one colour.   I am known for my orange grounds, but often use naples yellow, burnt sienna or anything else left on the palette.   You can use both watercolour and gouache  separately or mixed together to make a ground. 20181025_095826I hope this helps those who are interested.     The key is to allow yourself to EXPERIMENT and PLAY,    Remember it is only paper……

I leave you with a magical hummingbird drinking from the sweet nectar of life.…paiinted on an orange ground using a watercolour/gouache mix. 20-11-15 - 1 (358)

A Bientôt.

Working with Gouache.

About 15 years ago when working  in my studio in Wales, I started to PLAY with the idea of mixing transparent watercolours with Opaque Gouache. 

In this quick study of my friend, Claudia Notalle, the French actress, I worked from paper that had a cadmium orange gouache ground, along with all sorts of other paint spatterings!      I have intentionally integrated the paint spatterings into the image. 

The moral of the story is don’t throw old pieces of soiled paper away…….

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Frame 1)

I sketch out the face using Indian Red…..and at the same time throw in Gouache permanent white for the highlights and some dark tones to indicate shadow areas. 

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Frame 2)

In this frame I add more Indian Red and strengthen the darks around the image…..always working the whole painting….not just one

segment at a time…..

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Frame 3)

I now add the vibrancy of turquoise…which is a mix of Cotman watercolour Turquoise with permanent white Gouache….again moving the colour around the image. 

I also add violet, more Indian red and strengthen the darks…..allowing the cadmium orange ground and spatterings to show through the painting.

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Final image. 

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Wishing everyone a lovely weekend….back here on Monday. 

A Bientôt