Practical Exercise 6 – Gouache – Tubes (3)


Medium:  Winsor and Newton gouache, Liquitex and Pebeo acrylics
Support: Bockingford Watercolour Paper 300gsm (140 Ibs)
Colours: Gouache – Ultramarine Blue, Naples Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Zinc White, Cadmium Red, Primary Blue. Acrylics – Quinacridone Red-Orange, Phthalocyanine Blue
Brushes: Long, round, sizes 5/Short, flat, 4
Size: 23 x 27 cm (9 x 10½ inches)


For this exercise, I just wanted to play with the paint and try out a range of techniques using gouache.

Session 1

Trying out blending, dry brush technique and texture

Initially I blocked in the background using the ‘little lake’ technique from Icon paintings. This created a mottled effect which, given the texture of the watercolour paper, wasn’t as obvious as it is on hot pressed smooth paper.

I used a number of techniques:

  •  Applying oil pastel first then washes of colour over the pastel
  •  Pure colours from the tube blended wet-on-wet with more opaque mixes of colour
  •  Dry brush technique using a flat brush dragged across the paper
  •  Mixing colours directly onto the support with a palette knife.
  •  Using Zinc White and a palette knife to create a textured layer
  •  Dipping a ‘Q’ tip into paint and applying dots of colour.

Session 2

Additional techniques

For the second session, I worked with some additional techniques and added to areas started in Session 1.

  • I wasn’t sure if the textured white area would withstand other layers of gouache so gently applied dilute layers of acrylic using Quinacridone Red-Orange and Phthalocyanine Blue so that it picked up on the textures underneath.
  • Onto a surface worked with dry brush technique I dropped dilute Cadmium Red and tilted the paper to move the paint across the surface.
  • Using a cocktail stick I scraped into a textured area created with Cadmium Red, Naples Yellow and Zinc White.
  • I covered one area with white oil pastel and built up layers of pure colour over this, allowing layers to dry in between.
  • Using opaque colours, I created a loosely worked landscape using wet-on-wet.

On Reflection

  • Just exploring the different techniques was a useful exercise. I like working with gouache and have tried different techniques over the last three exercises. At times, I found it frustrating when a previous layer blended into another, even after being left to dry, but that is a property of the paint which can also work to your advantage if you need a subtle blend of colours.
  • Overall, I think there is a lot of potential with gouache, particularly when combined with other mediums such as oil pastel or acrylic paint. When layered with paint, both pure colours and opaque, this allows for a wide range of textures.

Related Posts

Practical Exercise 4 – Gouache – Tubes (1)

Practical Exercise 5 – Gouache – Tubes (2)