Practical Exercise 4 – Gouache – Tubes (1)


Medium: Winsor and Newton gouache, Rembrandt oil pastels
Support: Cass Art Watercolour Paper Smooth, Hot Pressed paper, 300gsm (140 Ibs)
Colours: Gouache – Ultramarine Blue, Naples Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Zinc White, Primary Blue, Vermilion, Cerulean Blue. Oil pastels – Azure Blue, Vermilion, Light Oxide Red, Yellow Ochre
Brushes: Long, round, sizes 5,8/Short, flat No 4, 1 inch
Size: 19.5 x 26.5 cm (7½ x 10½ inches)


This was intended as an exercise in getting to know the paints. I had no fixed idea of painting a particular subject, just a case of starting and seeing where I ended up.

Session 1

Initial layers plus oil pastel

Using a 1 inch brush I blocked in an initial layer using Primary Blue, Zinc White and a touch of Naples Yellow. While still damp I added a layer of Vermilion and gently rubbed over this with a dry kitchen towel. I then layered on some Primary Blue, using this more thickly, with a 3/8-inch brush. This was followed by Naples Yellow dragged unevenly over the surface.

Using Azure Blue and Yellow Ochre oil pastels I created lines and cross hatching across the surface before applying a thin layer of Primary Blue over the oil pastel.

Session 2

Additional layers and pastel

For the second session, I applied a layer of Vermilion to the right of the cross hatching, blending into Naples Yellow at the lower end. To the left of the cross hatching I applied Vermilion more thickly over the Azure blue oil pastel.

Layers removed

While I hadn’t intended to create a particular image, I was now working around the idea of trees in a wood. I began to feel that it was too much of a picture and decided to rub off most of the colours and work on something more abstract.

Session 3

Creating more sense of movement and light

While the tree image was still there I began using a round brush to create areas of loose brush work. I applied paint and rubbed off areas to get more of a sense of movement and light until point where I had overworked area at bottom of paper.

Session 4

Additional touches

Finally, I tried reworking this area but paper was showing signs of wear and tear so decided to stop.

On Reflection

  • I haven’t used gouache very often and, when I have, the result has tended to be flat areas of paint with little layering or blending.
  • As an experiment with gouache this has been useful. Ultimately, I’ve overworked the image but techniques at various stages were worth trying out including using oil pastel, blending areas of paint, using thinner washes, applying paint more thickly and lifting out areas of paint.

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