I am a gouachist!
Long before I ever painted in watercolor I worked in gouache. What is gouache? It is an opaque watercolor. Yesterday I talked about the properties of watercolor and transparency. Today I will talk about gouache and why I like it so much. It is a very forgivable medium. I have found every artist has a unique way of seeing. I see in shadows, light on form. By creating the shadows first….. working dark to light I find that I have the most success in creating dimension. Gouache allows the artist to work light to dark, dark to light and any where in between. This is because it is opaque. Watercolor does not allow one layer to block another.
I first started working in gouache because I had such a hard time working in watercolor. There were too many things to think about at one time. I started doing in-depth tonal drawings so that I could figure out light on form, surface contour and texture. I then saw the work of Margaret Mee. Her work is done in graphite and gouache and her subject matter is the tropics. I was inspired by her work and started to layer gouache over my graphite drawings. I found that the graphite acted as a grisaille painting and all I had to do was add the color on top. All the other work was done in graphite drawing and I could just focus on color mixing and painting.
I scanned this leaf to show the 4 different stages of the process.
Stage 1- Graphite
I start with a completed tonal drawing using a 2H pencil.
Stage 2- Light wash of Gouache
This shows the drawing from underneath and keeps the graphite from moving around. The left side of the leaf is one layer and the right side is 2 layers. These layers are thin so I can see the structure underneath.
Stage 3 – Going more opaque.
The graphite begins to disappear and the form is not lost.
Stage 4 – Final Details.
Here I use dry brush and colored pencil to fill in the finishing details.
If you have any questions or comments about gouache please feel free to leave your comment below.