Sunday, February 27, 2011

Painting In Gouache 2

A couple of posts ago I gave a very brief history about the history of gouache and also posted a few images showing a work in progress. I'll mention the materials use here for one reason. Although the use of the medium dates back to the middle ages and has been used in outstanding works of art by artist from the renaissance to the present, there are people who confuse it with poster colors or some cheap student grade paints.
There are many quality brands sold in art supply stores. It is either sold as Designers gouache or artist gouache, read the labels for information about light-fastness so that you do not purchase any fugitive colors. I use mostly Windsor and Newton Designers Gouache and Holbein Gouache, (not Acryla Gouache). I make it a habit of reading the label before I purchase the colors.
The brushes are the same brushes I use for watercolor. Another habit I have is to pick up some brushes every now and then from the art supply store. I have a bunch of sable, squirrel and synthetic brushes that I use for both gouache and transparent watercolor.
Paper has become very important. I use a heavy weight rag paper with a slight tooth. A lot of people like bristol board or illustration board, but for me the paint can lift off those surfaces as you continue to layer the colors. I prefer paper that holds the paint better like hot press watercolor paper or a rag drawing paper.

The painting on the left was done on a Canson Mix Media 98lb. paper. The surface seemed to absorb that first layer of paint and allow for the next layers to either lay on top or be mixed with the color underneath. This made it easy for me to smooth out the transitions by either mixing the paint on the surface or dry brushing over the previous layer. That is pretty much the way I like to work in this medium. The gentleman is a coworker of mine who wore the African outfit as a part of a Black History month celebration on my job.


This painting of my son was painted in the same
way as described above.

The following are some sites I have found on gouache.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Painting All Day Long

Thanks to my son being home from school this week for mid winter recess, (though I do not remember ever getting a notice about it), and my wife needing to go to an appointment I took the day off from work. So I painted all day long stopping to put together the videos I include in this post, playing some video games with my son and fixing his lunch, (my son is 9).
The sketch on the left is of a co-worker. I had planed to make a gouache portrait of a photo I took of him. I used the time I had today to make this sketch in Photoshop. it is this first video I include here.

This dinosaur concept sketch, also done in photoshop, was based on a pencil sketch I had done on my lunch hour the previous day. I wanted to show the Trex as a pack hunter.It is in two parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Monday, February 21, 2011

Painting In Gouache

I don’t see many tutorials on painting in gouache. As a matter of fact I see a lot of misunderstanding about the medium. The use of gouache dates back to the middle ages when artists added white to watercolors to make it opaque. In the renaissance it was used by Albrecht Durer, his famous watercolor “The Large Turf” was actually painting in gouache. It was also used by Rubens, Van Dyck , Poussin,Turner, Degas, Sargent, Sorolla, the Pre-Raphaelites and many other Masters. Yet, today it can be excluded from watercolor competitions. Some watercolorists consider using opaque white with watercolor a sin regardless of the fact that some of those great watercolorists they hold up are listed above.
The shame of this confusion is that what gets lost is that the art is in the image not the medium.
That being said, I see so few tutorials on painting in gouache and very few books on this medium even though its been used by many great artist and illustrators.

Here I offer some images which show the progression of a gouache portrait.


First I started out by making a
charcoal drawing of the subject.
I wasn't entirely happy with this
drawing, and as a matter of fact it
was my second attempt. How it did
help was in my coming up with a
plan as to how I would simplify the
image in the painting.

I drew this outline on the
paper I would paint on and
I also made a tracing of this
drawing in case I would need
to reestablish some information
I painted over.

Here in my initial lay in
I try to keep the forms simple
and cover the whole page
so I can begin to work in

I work pretty much the same way
I would work in oils, trying to establish
the big shapes and let them lead me to
the more specific details, working from
dark to light.

 I used both a loaded wet brush
and a dry brush as I layered the
paint and worked towards final image.

Here is the finished painting. I continued
to refine the image with a dry brush,
smoothing out transitions all over the face and
correcting the drawing. These are increasingly
subtle changes since all the big areas have
been planed and worked on from the beginning.

Most of what I’ve painted in the past few years has been in both opaque and transparent watercolor. I set aside oils 11 years ago because I did not want that medium around my children, (but I do miss painting in oils). Today my kids are older but I don’t have the space to work in oils, watercolors are faster to set up and put away. They are also more portable and gouache allows me to paint in a way similar to oils.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Painting and Drawing My Parents

I try hard to be self critical when it comes to my work, but I try also not to fall in to the trap of comparing my work with someone else's because then I would easily become discouraged. Sometimes though I find myself liking some of the things I did not because I think it's great work but because of the experience of having done it. It was fun, or I painted someone I really care about and preserved a memory that I can look back at. That's the way I feel when I look at the paintings I've done of my parents. My father is gone now, he passed away at 91 years old. He was born in 1916. I only wish I had done more of him.  I have some oil sketches and various drawings of him but the charcoal drawing I include here very much reminds me of him.
My mother is still going strong, she was born in 1923, this February 17th she will be 88. I painted and drew here often, she sat for me very patiently since my High School days when I started learning to draw from life. I never tire of painting her and each work is a memory, some done from life and others from photos, but I remember the experience of painting them. It would be nice to get that across in everything I do, the idea that It's not just paint but an experience, a memory. It may not be your own but maybe having had similar experience's it can trigger some of your own memories about your own experience.

This drawing was done in 1983, my senior year
in High School. I found the old sketchbook
a short time ago.

This drawing was also done when I was
in High School. I wanted to paint her
sewing near a window, ( I was
thinking of those Vermeer paintings
where the subject is posed near a

Oil sketch of my Dad, also from
my High School days. He rarely
sat for me but he was always very
patient and accomidating on the
occasions when he did.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Drawing Dinosaurs

I love depicting dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. At first I would depict them pretty much as the monsters of some science fiction or fantasy movie, these fascinating creatures that all children seem to love and some of us remain fascinated with. Recently I have been trying to add to what I know about how to draw and paint these prehistoric creatures through articles, videos, books and looking at the work of paleo artist. I know that there are a lot of faults knowledgeable people can find in my depictions but I’m still learning, (and I see that even very accomplished paleo artist have commented about things that they would do differently about some depictions of prehistoric animals they have done). 

The fun part about it is that after you get as much information as you can, there is a lot we don’t know about what they looked like, a lot that can be guessed at. it’s a mixture of hard data and imagination.

When it comes to constructing one of these images I try to think of it in the same way I would do a living person, you look at the shapes, you consider what’s underneath- the skull. I remember an art class in college where we spent days drawing from a skeleton. After some time I noticed that it really helped me in life drawing, I was able to understand the figure better.
In the series of drawing bellow I started with the drawing of a skull, (A T-Rex model Skeleton I found at a toy store), and I kept going over it on a light box till I arrived at the final painting. I also used reference photos of crocodiles and other reptiles for skin texture.

This drawing was done from a model T-Rex
skeleton I have. I took this drawing and placed it
on a light box.

I fleshed out the skeleton trying to imagine
what his skin would look like.

I look at some picture of crocodiles
and other reptiles and tried to map out
the scales and textures. I would reinterpret
this in the final painting.

Here is the final painting done in gouache on paper.