Gouache Love

I love gouache's texture, it's opaqueness and transparency, it's chalkiness and thick layers, I love how it works with different papers and how my pencil glides across gouache-covered page.

But I also struggled with gouache medium when I tried to incorporate it in my plein-air practice and even while working at the table in a more controlled environment. It rarely did what I wanted it when I wanted. Palettes dried to crumbled mess, some grew forests of fungus in them. Colors changed too much from wet to dry. Layers got reactivated too much or not enough.

And then I started to log my experiments and see what attempts brought me more joy than others. I did a month of gouaches in June, then continued throughout the fall and I think I found some solutions for my struggles. They are not a panacea - but they work for me and bring me much closer to a state when I enjoy the medium without overthinking the process, when I can control it just as much as I want to and can work very fast and in the field too!

I am working on putting together a workshop (more on that subject soon) but in the mean time - here is a piece of the puzzle that was critical for me: consistency of the gouache is a very personal, rare and very important thing. Spend a little tine to prepare it to your liking and huge amount of time and energy will be saved.

My Latest Gouache Set-Up
I got this palette, put a limited number of colors and spent some time adding water (with an eye dropper) and working on the level of gooeyiness using toothpicks. I like it when it's similar to a pancake batter.

Now I can get a lot of paint on my brush and almost sculpt with it. But I also can do light transparent washes and variety of dry brush techniques. I keep the paint moist with a tiny water mister and stir colors regularly. They dried a bit after a couple of weeks of every other day use and now took them outside in my backpack to a plein-air session and every color stayed in it's little cubicle :)