Getting to Grips with Gouache

S.O.F.A. member Tamsin Lord shares her love of gouache.

The medium of choice for my feline art is Designers’ Gouache, which is a range of opaque water colours.  They are so called because they were developed for use by designers, illustrators and commercial artists to create crisp, vibrant visuals and illustrations in solid colour.  I was first introduced to gouache during my art Foundation studies years ago, and instantly loved the striking colour palette, tight control and fast drying qualities they offer.

Gouache is adaptable and various mediums can be added to create effects, it can also be fully intermixed with Artist’s water colours.  I use both types of paint in my feline pictures; I find by combining them I can produce controlled, colourful paintings which also have elements of fluidity and soft texture.

I particularly enjoy combining gouache and water colour when working on eyes.
I particularly enjoy combining gouache and water colour when working on eyes.
Curlicue Cat by Tamsin Lord
Curlicue Cat by Tamsin Lord

Gouache is a forgiving medium, although you do need to take into account the opacity ratings when using light colours over dark.  It’s also important to be aware of colours which are rated as ‘bleeding’ on the colour chart.  I learnt this lesson several years ago when I applied white over magenta and ended up with a pink rinse kitty!  Saying that, I rather liked it and went through a very colourful ‘Curlicue Cat period’ (this little chap on the right being one of them!)  There are ways round bleeding though, as you can use a Bleedproof White as an in between layer.

I apply the gouache in layers and it is intended to be applied fairly thickly.  If diluted with too much water it may ‘powder off’, on the other hand, apply too many thick layers and it can crack (gum Arabic can be added to reduce this problem).  This link is to a short video which shows one of my paintings progressing.

Tamsin LordA variety of brushes are suitable for use with gouache depending on the technique used and finish required.  When I paint cat fur (which you’ll notice can be quite prolific and chaotic) initially I used a fine sable rigger which is a brush widely used for painting rigging on ships and is great for holding colour to flow through the stroke.  However, whilst trawling through Rosemary & Co’s brush catalogue (which I can highly recommend) I thought I’d give their Golden Synthetic Pointed Riggers a try and was very pleasantly surprised, they hold the paint excellently and I find offer a little more spring than sable, which actually suits me better.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it and here are a couple of online retailers I can recommend:
Cowling & Wilcox ~ for Designers’ Gouache, Artist’s Water Colours and Other Art Materials
Rosemary & Co ~ for Handmade Artists’ Brushes.

 by Tamsin Lord S.O.F.A.
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Do you have particular materials or techniques you’d like to recommend to other members? Do you have a particular brand of paint or pastels you love to use? Where do you buy your supplies from, do you have a great local art supply shop or do you use an online store? If so we’d like to feature you and your work along with those recommendations on the blog. Contact the editor.

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