Ideas for Painting with Gouache

Black Horse by Kathryn Sturges

Black Horse by Kathryn Sturges

Okay, so gouache paints are totally rocking my studio right now! I’ve been a watercolor artist for most of my creative life but gouache is like the icing on the cupcake of watercolor paint. I used to try to get really thick watercolor in tubes and apply it in heavy layers to try to get an opaque wash. Gouache is changing everything about my painting process!

So here are some tips and ways that gouache can be added to a watercolor practice. Experiment with these fabulous paints and see what the fuss is all about!

  1. Try adding gouache in as a top layer, for all those accents that you cannot do with watercolor. Use it to add opaque white or other light colors over a darker layer.

  2. Start with a messy background, then paint with gouache over the top.

  3. Get a cup of water and your brushes. Dab a brush in the water and then get a speck of paint directly from the tube and work with it straight up. Add water directly onto the paper with your brush to thin down the paint a bit.

  4. Buy a large set of Reeves so you already have lots of colors to choose from. Reeves gouache is affordable and holds up well to layering.

  5. Paint the initial layer in watercolor, then draw a design on top. Fill in the design with gouache paints.

  6. Try mixing gouache directly on the paper. Apply two dabs of color and then mist the area with a spray bottle and mix.

  7. Gouache stands up to most of the texture applications that watercolor does, while being thick enough for some acrylic style techniques. Dab it with paper towel for texture, use for stenciling, paint wet on wet and create watery washes or apply super thick.

I hope this gives you some inspiration to try gouache. It really does bring a whole new level of freedom to watercolor. Explore what this fabulous medium can do!