I spent some time yesterday playing with gouache paints so that I could see how I liked working with them as a possible candidate for my portable studio. Gouache is a water based medium; basically it is an opaque watercolor. While as an oil painter I wouldn't exactly call it opaque, it is more so than traditional watercolor. I've worked with many different water media before, including gouache, but it has been some time. Here's what I discovered:
My "oops" moments:
- Some of the colors don't behave at all like either watercolor or oils. In general the gouache colors were somewhat darker and took some experimenting to get the mix I wanted.
- The paint dries very quickly! In the future I may rethink squeezing out big blobs on my palette all at once (an overzealous oil painter's habit.) If I painted with these outdoors, I'd definitely need a spray bottle or drying retardant to keep my paints moist and fluid while working in the open air.
My "hey, cool!" moments:
- A very forgiving medium that is easy to work with. Most mistakes can be "lifted off" with water and brush. The opaqueness allows you to paint over certain passages and change the composition (something not so easily done with watercolor.)
- Versatile- can be mixed with watercolor and pen and ink. Acts as a watercolor for washes, but can also be laid down more opaquely and mixed with white.
- Easy cleanup. Like watercolor, just a little soap and water does the trick.
Gouache paintings are treated the same as watercolors in terms of care and framing. They should be displayed under glass and kept out of direct sunlight for best longevity. Gouaches tend to like a rigid surface, so a heavy paper or mat board is a good substrate for this medium. Here is a little painting I did of the Provincial countryside: