In the world of water-based paint, watercolor and acrylic tend to be more well-known than gouache. But that doesn’t mean gouache isn’t worth working with. An in-between of watercolor and acrylic, its properties act more like watercolor while giving an opaqueness that’s akin to acrylic. The chalkiness in gouache also can’t be found in any other type of paint, and the hues are more concentrated to give you brighter, crisper washes.
One of the best ways to experiment with this medium: paint a landscape. So grab your tools and start experimenting!
What You Need
1. Sketch the Landscape
Begin drawing your landscape by blocking out the big shapes. Pay attention to what’s in the foreground, midground and background. Once your shapes are defined, outline the areas where there’s the most color change and texture.
Pro Tip: Press lightly with your pencil when sketching — you don’t want any dark graphite lines to be visible in your final painting.
Don’t be afraid to redraw your composition. This is the planning phase, so work out all the kinks now to make sure your image is how you want it before you begin painting.
2. Paint the Big Shapes
Fill in your big shapes with the base colors. Don’t worry about details at this point, just paint in the generic color of each object. When you have all the hues filled in, you have an outline for detailing your final piece. Wait until your paper is completely dry before moving on.
3. Refine, Refine, Refine
Add depth and realism to your painting by adding shadows and highlights. Make sure you’re looking closely at your reference image to capture all the intricacies.
Begin adding the fine details, such as leaves, small rocks and cracks in the cliffs. This is when the painting starts to come alive, and you’ll want a small round-tip brush to do the job.
Pro Tip: Filling in the details can be overwhelming when you look at the reference photo. Make it more manageable by focusing on the background first and working your way up to the foreground. If you make a mistake, just paint over it — the wonderful thing about gouache is its opaqueness.
Keep adjusting the fine details, shadows and highlights until you’re satisfied with your picture. Let it dry and you’re done!
Stephen Quiller often works with gouache. He is quite a brilliant Colorado artist. When I was younger my husband and I lived near him and purchased a poster-sized print of his. I have his watermedia book. Helen Dealtry sometimes works in gouache as well.
I hope there will be at least one full class about this medium. It’s awesome but I have a lot more to learn.