Gouache: A beautiful medium.

I’m currently teaching a Gouache painting course with Penn School of Art, based in Pennsylvania USA, and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to talk about Gouache, why I use it and what makes it an excellent medium for the kind of work I create. Out of all of the painting mediums, it is usually Oil, Watercolour and Acrylic that are the most familiar. However, Gouache, whilst being less well known is one of the most exciting and often misunderstood. Mainly known for its use in graphic work and watercolour highlighting, when used in a painterly way, it is almost the perfect fine art medium.

I began painting with Gouache just over a year ago and whilst at first I found it a difficult medium to understand, I soon began to see its potential as a secondary medium, my primary being Oil. The colour intensity and vividness are second to none and along with its velvety matt finish, the paint creates a surface and depth of colour that is simply gorgeous, drawing the viewer into the textures and atmosphere. I find it's the closest to painting with pure pigment, an almost pastel-like feel but with the expressive brushwork usually seen in Oil and Acrylic.


Gouache paint is similar to watercolour in that it contains the same binder, Gum Arabic. This means that like watercolour, it remains water soluble. This difference comes in its opacity, whereas watercolour painting is all about the transparency of the pigment and techniques are based around this, Gouache is opaque, meaning that one uses it in a similar way to Oil or Acrylic. The opacity comes from a larger pigment-to-binder ratio, the use of opaque pigments and the addition of white paint into the palette (watercolour painting usually relies on the white of the paper as the source of light.


My approach to painting with Gouache is similar to how I use Oil, building layers of brushwork, with a little blending here and there. Unlike Oil, Gouache dries very fast, meaning that these layers can be created within minutes. I use the same brushes as I do with Oil, stiff bristle brushes with minimal water when painting. The dry brush technique results in a build-up of texture and a painterly look.

Here is a demonstration video of me painting with Gouache.

Like watercolour, gouache paintings should be framed behind glass due to their solubility. However, they can be sealed and varnished and displayed without glass.

Please feel free to ask any questions about Gouache in the comments. There are still places available on my course with Pen School of Art. Each live session is recorded, so you will be able to catch up. Find out more here Gouache Painting Course

View all of my recent Gouache paintings on my website and enter the code GOUACHE10 at checkout to receive 10% off all gouache works.



Leave a comment

    1 out of ...