Friday, April 8, 2011

Gouache overview

Gouache colours are a popular medium for beginning and amateur artists, designers and illustrators. This article contains useful information about gouache, its features and usage.

What is Gouache?

Gouache is opaque watercolour prepared with gum arabic.

History of Gouache
There are different versions of gouache history. One of them says that it was discovered by an Italian monk in the 11th Century by adding zinc white to watercolours. Since that time, gouache was considered as a type of watercolours for many Centuries. It was never so popular medium as watercolours and oil colours; however, nowadays its popularity grows more and more. The reason for this are gouache properties that allow to reach great results in technical and graphic illustrations, decorative and fine art.

Gouache Properties
Gouache is known for mattness, brightness and intensity of colours. Unlike classic watercolours it has high covering power, so it is possible to apply light layers of colours above dark ones. There are several types of gouache: classic and acrylic, art and poster gouache. Classic gouache painting can be easily moisturized and edited after drying, while acrylic gouache becomes waterproof. Art gouache features more natural colours than poster. Poster gouache has very bright colours ideal for poster drawing.

Supports for Gouache Painting
Gouache can be used on any kind of paper or canvas. The only limitation - it must not have oily surface.

Gouache Usage
Gouache is very easy to use. That is why it is recommended to art students to sharpen their painting techniques on gouache before they start using oil colours. All you need for gouache painting is paper, palette, brushes, water and gouache.

Useful Tips

  • Gouache colours can be mixed with each other in order to reach to the desired hue. To reach a lighter colour, white colour can be used. Such famous gouache producers as LEFRANC & BOURGEOIS produce two types of white colour: mixing white and permanent white (the first one is used for mixing with other colours, the second one – for applying above other layers as it has higher covering power).

  • Add sufficient amount of water to make gouache as liquid as shampoo or dishwashing liquid.

  • Avoid applying very thick layers, as it can cause cracking of your painting later.

  • Note that gouache colours change after drying. Light colours become darker while dark colours become lighter. With experience, you will know what to expect from every colour you use. Another solution can be using small containers for your palette. Place each colour of you palette in a small container with cover (to keep it wet) and stick a piece of paper on it with a colour sample. By this way you can keep the colours you use the most always ready for painting and see how they will look like after drying.

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