Gouache 101 : A beginners guide

Gouache is such a beautiful and versatile medium and I happened to just stumble upon it accidentally few years ago. But once I tried it out, I knew there is no going back! Pronounced gwaaash (thought I’d put this here as I have been confused with the pronunciation myself!) it’s like a marriage between watercolors and acrylics! I always say that it is as beautiful and lively as watercolors and at the same time as forgiving as acrylics.

Watercolor vs Acrylic vs Gouache

So lets discuss a bit about how similar or different these mediums are. Gouache comes in two types – normal water-based gouache and acryl gouache.

Waterbased gouache is very similar to watercolors except that it dries with a matt finish and is opaque. The key difference is the way it is composed – in addition to the pigment and binder, gouache has additives like Titanium Oxide or Zinc Oxide that give it the opacity. You can get the translucent effect of watercolors by adding more water too but then gouache is more of a color blocking medium. Keep in mind that gouache re-wets even on paper so when you put a thick layer,there is a good chance that you may pick up pigments when you try and add another layer.

Acryl Gouache is closer to acrylics in the sense that it dries permanently – you cannot rewet it once it dries but while you are painting, you can vary its consistency by adding water. Acryl gouache in addition to the binder,pigment and additives, has a sealant that makes it permanent once dry.

Blending to an extent happens naturally with watercolors – you keep two wet layers next to each other and they will try and blend in – they are friendly like that! With gouache , you have to take the effort and blend the colors – it wont happen on its own when you use the creamy gouache consistency. That said you can always use a brush and blend the two colors in while they are still wet or just rewet the edges to blend.

Another key difference is the way we layer in these mediums. With watercolors we have to plan ahead . You want to preserve whites?  – Mask them or paint around them. Essentially you can only go from light to dark and not the other way round.

With gouache or acrylics, you can go from dark to light as well as the colors are opaque. You can correct any mistakes you did by layering up. Just that you have to be a little careful with waterbased gouache while layering to not make it too thick. Too much paint and gouache will begin to crack.

Materials to go with Gouache

Paper :

I usually go for a Hot pressed or Cold Pressed paper for gouache and avoid anything Rough grain. You basically need a surface with less texture as gouache tends to settle in the crevices and can lead to cracking later. Any watercolor paper – 200 gsm or above is good to go!

Brushes :

For gouache, I recommend using synthetic brushes mainly because they hold comparatively less water than the natural hair counterparts. This helps when you are trying to achieve that creamy runny consistency of gouache. 

Storing Gouache

Gouache tends to crack primarily due to its composition. So storing them in pans or open palettes may be tricky as there is a good chance that the paint cracks and then gets into other wells. I usually just squeeze out the required amount of paint and then keep the remaining flat on the palette ( no blobs or thick layers). You can try out the stay wet palette that many artists use for acrylics.

Brustro Gouache Launch

I hope you enjoyed the blog so far. I wanted to add this note about the newly launched Brustro Gouache as I am sure that a lot of us struggle initially to find affordable supplies when we are starting out. This is a great set if you want to try out the medium and play a bit with it or if you want to up your gouache game!

What I loved about this set is how vibrant the colors are! We usually associate gouache with more of muted tones but this set has some pretty neons that pop up on both white and black papers. I have added the swatches below and in case you want to buy it, it is available on the CreativeHands website for 849 INR. You can use the code VINITA15 for a further 15% discount! 

I hope this helps you kickstart your Gouache journey! I would love to know your thoughts / experiences with this medium and if you have any queries just drop them here in comments and I will try my best to answer!

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