Sketchbook Peek: My first foray with gouache

Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache - Primary Yellow, Primary Red, Primary Blue, Zinc White

Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache - Primary Yellow, Primary Red, Primary Blue, Zinc White

As I explore the world of illustration, I’ve become increasingly eager to try gouache - an opaque form of watercolor paint whose opaque qualities are due to larger particles and a higher pigment ratio than that of transparent watercolor paint.

Gouache like watercolor is well suited for illustration work because it dries quickly to a matte finish making it easy to scan and photograph for reproduction purposes. What makes gouache especially appealing though is the ability to achieve watercolor effects whilst providing the ability to paint in solid opaque layers from dark to light (like acrylic and oil). 

Traditional watercolor technique uses the white of the paper for highlights and is worked in layers from light to dark. This requires artists to carefully plan a painting around any white or light areas of color. With gouache, highlights can be applied at any stage of the painting, making it a much more versatile and forgiving medium. Gouache can also be intermixed with traditional watercolor paints. The possibilities are tantalizing!

To begin my foray into gouache I purchased a primary color palette plus white from the Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache line. I currently use Winsor and Newton’s professional transparent watercolors and have been pleased with their quality and vibrance. I found the same to be true of their gouache but was slightly disappointed to find that a greater number of gouache paints are less lightfast/permanent than their watercolor counterparts. Designers and illustrators are less concerned with permanence as their work is created for reproduction but I want the ability to use gouache for fine art purposes as well. 

The primary yellow, blue and white all have an A permanence rating but I didn’t notice that the primary red had a B rating until after purchase. I will be sure to select a permanent red in the future. Windsor and Newton rates paint permanence as AA (extremely permanent), A (permanent), B (moderately durable) and C (fugitive).

Below you’ll find my first illustration using gouache. Painting with gouache is quite similar to watercolor with a few exceptions. It dries more quickly and sometimes dries lighter or darker depending on color. 

I really enjoyed my gouache experience and look forward to using it in future work. Have you ever used gouache? Any brands to recommend? I'm interested in M. Graham and Schmincke Horadam.