Stamp Carving 101
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Playing with Gouache

I have been wanting to try out some gouache.  If you're unfamiliar with gouache, here's the definition from wikipedia:

Gouache paint is similar to watercolor but modified to make it opaque. A binding agent, usually gum arabic, is present, just as in watercolor. Gouache differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk may also be present. This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities.  Gouache generally dries to a different value than it appears when wet (lighter tones generally dry darker, while darker tones tend to dry lighter), which can make it difficult to match colors over multiple painting sessions. Its quick coverage and total hiding power mean that gouache lends itself to more direct painting techniques than watercolor....  It is used most consistently by commercial artists for works such as posters, illustrations, comics, and for other design work. Most 20th-century animations used it to create an opaque color on a cel with watercolor paint used for backgrounds, and gouache as "poster paint" is desirable for its speed and durability.

The one drawback of gouache for the kind of art that I do, is the same drawback as watercolor -- it's not permanent.  It reactivates with the addition of water.  HOWEVER, I did a bunch of internet research (Google is awesome, right?) and discovered that Holbein makes a mostly permanent (i.e. water resistant) gouache!  It's called Acryla Designer Gouache.

This is the official description from the Holbein website:

Holbein Acryla Gouache moves, reacts, blends and feels like traditional gum arabic gouache. Holbein Acryla Gouache is water resistance once dry.

Drying to a velvet matte finish; Holbein Acryla Gouache does not shift in color tone from liquid to dry color. What you see wet is what you get once dry.

Holbein Acryla Gouache does not have the same fragile surface as traditional gouache in gum arabic and is compatible with all other water soluble media regardless of origin.

Instead of using gum arabic as a binding agent, they use an acrylic resin.  That's what makes this paint act like traditional gouache (matte, opaque -- even over dark colors) when wet and YET it's water resistant and flexible (won't flake or crack) when dry!  Best of both worlds right?

I treated myself to a bunch of tubes (and it is a treat, because they're not cheap).  I painted out a color chart for myself (I left some empty squares, because I might need to buy more!):


The top part of the swatch is the paint straight out of the tube.  The bottom part is after it's watered down.  

This is my first little experiment with the gouache:


When I get new supplies I always test them out.  Knowledge is power and nothing provides knowledge more quickly than some hands-on experiments!  Here are the questions I had and the answers I found:

  • I wanted to test the opacity (you can see the layers).  I watered the paint down to see if it was still opaque when watered down.  The answer is, it depends on the color and the amount of water, but mostly yes.  
  • I wanted to test out the mixing -- wet into wet and all that.  The answer is that it's less mixy (is that word?) than watercolor, but still mixes nicely.  The good news is that I didn't have to wait for the layers to dry to go right over them with another color because it's less mixy.  
  • I wanted to see if it was truly waterproof or more water resistant.  The answer is that it's pretty solidly waterproof.  I scratched a wet brush across this piece and stuff didn't seem to move.  I got a tiny bit of tinted water, but that was it.  
  • I wanted to see just how matte this paint was.  The answer is wonderfully perfectly so!
  • I wanted to see if the advertised lack-of-color-shift-when-dry was true.  The answer is that the color seems pretty darn true to me!  It didn't seem to shift at all as it dried.  Also, these colors are wickedly bright.  Technicolor.  Even neon.  And yes, there are metallics!  Yay!
  • I wanted to see if the paint would flake and crack when dry.  The answer is no.  Admittedly, it has only been a few days, but so far so good!

 I've been using the gouache on some of my #28patterns and I'm delighted with how they work.


Have you tried out Acryla Gouache yet?  What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by!