Saturday, January 5, 2019

Gouache Painting Surfaces, Palette's and Paints

One of the great things about gouache is that there are a variety of surfaces that you can use to paint on. Apart from watercolor paper one can paint with gouache in a sketchbook or on bristol or illustration board. There are drawing pads of heavy weight mixed media paper that are great for gouache.

I usually prefer a pad with good drawing paper like Strathmore 400 series paper. It's 80 lb. weight is probably the lightest weight I would use. Working on a toned paper can be fun too. Stonehenge makes a great Kraft paper pad that is 100% cotton and weighs about 100 lb. There is a watercolor board made by Canson that is a heavy weight board with an arches watercolor paper adhered to it. I like this board especially for larger paintings and for using casein paint with gouache. Watercolor paper is great to use as well. It can be hot or cold pressed. The only two surfaces I avoid are a very rough textured paper or a very smooth plate finished paper. Rough paper would have me fighting to cover the texture of the paper and the plate finish surface would be difficult to paint in opaque layers because the paint will keep lifting off the surface. Painting is hard enough without having to fight a difficult surface to work on.

The best palettes to use are the tin pallets. I recently purchased a folding watercolor pallet made by Meeden with 12 full pans to place paint in. This is a great portable palette and the tin surface is a lot easier to mix the gouache paint on than a plastic palette. When I paint at home I use a metal butchers tray to mix my paint.

Some very good and knowledgeable artist recommend squeezing out the amount of paint you intend to use and throwing out any remaining paint.Their preference is to work with fresh paint for every painting. I don't do this for two reasons. First, the paint can be expensive. Not as costly as oil paint but it can still run some money. I do my best to build my pallet on paints that cover well so that when I add water to reactivate the paint on my pallet it would cover just as well as fresh squeezed paint. Second, it's been my habit to do this since high school and it has always worked for me.

There are any number of quality gouache brands to paint with. Brands like Windsor and Newton, Holbein, M. Graham are all great brands. My personal preference is Turner Designer gouache because I like the way the paint covers the surface. Whatever brand I buy I make sure to check the description on each tube for the colors light fastness which is always indicated on the label.

For more on painting in Gouache I have a video on Gumroad that is available to purchase either as a download for $12. or you can stream it for $2.

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