Diving into Gouache

My first gouache. The picture I'm working from is shown on my laptop. It's a photo I took from a trip to Montana. Gorgeous wide-open spaces.

My first gouache. The picture I’m working from is shown on my laptop. It’s a photo I took from a trip to Montana. Gorgeous wide-open spaces.

That would be one sticky mess, diving into gouache. But, basically that’s what I’ve done. After an artistic hiatus of many years, I started painting with acrylics last spring (2014). I enjoy it greatly and completed one a month on average for the rest of the year. At Christmas I received a set of gouache paints as a gift and I’m excited to learn this new medium.

I watched a couple tutorials online, and read a little bit about gouache before I set paint to paper. That was all well and good, but I had some watercolor baggage that I brought along on this endeavor and I had to pretty much jettison that immediately, much to my surprise. I had come to believe that gouache was basically a thick watercolor, but as I started spreading paint on the paper, I could immediately tell this was its own, unique, medium. It doesn’t feel, spread, or act like watercolor. It feels gummier as it spreads, I suppose due to the gum arabic (That’s a guess. For all I know, modern gouache doesn’t even have gum arabic. But still, it feels different).

I used a couple washes and found, again, that this isn’t watercolor. They surprised me with their opacity. That makes sense, though, since, unlike watercolor, which is transparent, gouache is opaque. Still, I had to run into the issue myself to get it into my head.

I did briefly touch on some dry-brush technique and was surprised and delighted by the result, and the feel of it all. I was also happy to see the opacity of white over anything beneath it.

So these are my initial impressions. I look forward to continuing on my first piece, revisiting some areas as I learn more, and watching my vision express itself on the paper as I go along.