Monday, June 16, 2014

Discovering Gouache

Three reasons why I have not tried gouache before are: 1) it wasn't a popular medium which was probably why it wasn't available in the place I used to live in, 2) I didn't know anyone using it, and 3) it felt to me like a complicated medium with a complicated name. 

But I did end up trying it because I was looking for a medium that was more opaque than watercolor but wasn't as shiny (and as sticky) as acrylic paint. Plus, one article I've read mentioned that with gouache, your brushstrokes wouldn't show. Really? I had to try that!

I promptly went to the art shop and asked if they had "gowch". The kind personnel smiled and said, "You mean "gwash"? It turned out that gouache, the really nice brand that is, don't come cheap and is sold at about $7.00 CDN each for a 20 ml tube. So I decided to buy the cheaper brand (Reeves) which was at $17.55 a set (24 tubes of different colors!) and then got 4 of the more pricey ones (Acryla) brand for the bright colors which weren't in the set. I also got a white tube by "Grahame & Co" because it was on sale and I knew that with opaque colors, I needed a bigger tube of white.

It turned out that like most things, I get what I pay for. I now firmly believe that when it comes to paint, I shouldn't be buying the cheaper ones. I found that the cheap "Reeves" gouache was powdery when dry, colors were dull and after mixing them, they turned to "mud" very easily. I found it very hard to get the right hues and contrast and ended up mixing it with acrylic paints to pump the colors up. Lesson 1: I will never buy cheap gouache paints..ever.

Then I found another thing. Lesson 2: There are two kinds of gouache paints. (Who knew?) One was the basic gouache which works like watercolors -  when you put another layer of paint over a previously dried layer, the two layers would mix. And then there's the second type which is the acrylic based gouache, which works like acrylic in that once it dries, it wouldn't mix with the next layer on top of it.

I soon found out that the four pricier ones that I had bought were acrylic based gouache, which I liked very much owing to their bright colors and creamy consistency and the cheaper ones plus the single white tube on sale was the basic gouache. Nevertheless, while I'm saving to buy more Acryla gouache colors, I'll be using the basic gouache in the meantime and mixing them up with my acrylic paints. 

The below illustrations are the result of my gouache experiment. This is about the moment of discovery. When a child discovers something that had been until that moment only in her imagination. I have always loved the idea of little people, starting with those tiny creatures living on the windowsill in Sesame Street. I wasn't too sure about the wings on this one but thought it would look better with the whites breaking the monotony of the greens.

Well, I don't know if it's because of the brand of gouache I used or because I'm mixing it with acrylic, but my brushstrokes are still showing. 

Starting to color the pencil sketch

Adding contrasts among the greens

Finish work on watercolor paper


geri said...

Em, I think you found your style in this work. My favorite among what I have seen so far. How exciting!

emilie said...

Thanks Din, its one of my favs too. I'm planning to have it printed as postcard. I'm working on another one, maybe you could help me choose later? :)

Lea Goward said...

Yes, you've done a beautiful job with this illustration, Emilie! Thanks for providing some useful information about gouache, too. For some reason there are few books about it, even though gouache is popular with some children's book illustrators. Will be fun to see your finished postcard, too! You never know where your new venture will lead to.