Monday, 8 February 2016

To Gouache, Or Not To Gouache

The use of opaque white paint, gouache for example, is a cause for some debate among the watercolour fraternity. Purists are often keen to ridicule those who use opaque white in their paintings, but attitudes are changing and a growing number of artists regularly use opaque white to great effect in their work.

I’m no expert, but I do like to experiment. Half the fun of painting for me is playing around with the paint to see what happens, and I’ll try anything to get the effect I want. In my painting ‘Winter Trees’ I applied juicy mixes of Dioxazine Purple, Permanent Rose and Prussian Blue to wet paper and let the colours blend together. When I was happy with the result, I sprinkled some areas of the painting with table salt and then left it to dry.

As soon as it was dry, I carefully brushed the salt off and began painting the trees with white gouache. In some areas I laid the paint on thick, while in others I used a thin, very nearly transparent wash. I like the painting; the almost ghostly appearance of the trees in some areas, and I don’t think I could have achieved the result I was after by using masking fluid.

I like using methods that work for me. I think that’s all that matters really, that, and having some fun along the way.  

I found THIS great article on painting with gouache, and thought it might be of interest to some people. 


  1. Hi John, your experimenting paid off! This is really beautiful!

    1. Hi, Wendy. Thank you for your comment. I'm glad you like my effort.