A few of you asked about gouache painting tips, so this one is for you guys! All you really need to get started with gouache is paint, brushes, a palette, water, and something to paint on (I used bristol paper). It turns out that I’ll need a bit more experience before I become the Queen of Gouache, but I did have a few helpful epiphanies while I practiced.
Epiphany #1: Don’t buy cheap gouache. At first I got an inexpensive set of gouache paints from the craft store. I practiced with them for a week or so, but they seemed dull and I couldn’t get them to look as opaque as I thought gouache was supposed to be. So, I went to an art supply store and got some brand name (Winsor & Newton) gouache paint. Wow, it made a world of difference. The paint is velvety and thick, and the colors are so rich and vibrant.
Epiphany #2: Experiment with different brushes. It seems to me that if acrylic and watercolor got together and had a baby it would be gouache. That being said, I’m not really sure what type of brush you’re supposed to use with gouache. I just pulled out my big box of paint brushes, tried them all, and each one gave me a different sort of look. I liked using small brushes best since I was working on lettering and such.
Epiphany #3: When mixing paint, use white paint to lighten the color instead of water. (If you want your gouache to be opaque, that is.) I have worked with watercolors quite a bit in the past, so I’m used to making light colors by mixing water into my paint and allowing the white of the paper to show through. It took me a while to figure out that using white paint instead of water allows me to retain the gouache’s opacity while still achieving a lighter color. You can see in the photo below. Two swatches of the same blue—the top I lightened with water, and the bottom I lightened with white.
Epiphany #4: Don’t mix in much water. (Unless you want your gouache to look like watercolor.) You can use gouache straight out of the tube if you want to, but I preferred it with a few drops of water mixed in. A little water thinned the paint slightly and allowed it to brush on smoothly. Too much water made it transparent. I still need more practice to consistently achieve the perfect water to paint ratio. It’s tricky!