Gouache (rhymes with squash) has lately become my favorite medium for illustrating my children's books. I started out with pen and ink and Prisma colored pencils, because I didn't have a very good experience with watercolor in college. In desperation, to add background color to my illustrations, I taught myself to watercolor and realized that, in college, I used cheap paint. TIP #1: Always use the artist level paints. They do not have to be the most expensive but a quality paint makes the world of difference, and it will save you a great deal of frustration. I do love the translucent colors of water color and still use it to paint my skies and faces. However, for best results, you need to use a textured watercolor paper that often needs stretching, and mistakes are very difficult to correct. You must also paint light to dark and leave all white spots white. It just always felt a little stressful.
THEN GOUACHE ENTERED MY WORLD!
I began looking for something different, because I wanted something brighter and more solid for my next book. Gouache has some similarities to watercolor but is far more opaque, and perfect for what I was looking for. As I looked into it, I kept hearing that it was a bit of a learning curve to learn. I did not experience that at all. I fell in love immediately! The matte finish was perfect. Mistakes are much easier to correct, since you can simply paint over them. You can, also, apply white paint over top of the dark, and it dries much faster. You can get away with using thinner papers such as mixed media papers or in your journal, as it requires less water, and isn't as inclined to buckle the paper. Instead of water to lighten colors, as in watercolors, you use white paint to lighten the colors. Of course, I still have a lot to learn, because the layering method is quite different and will require practice. In the case of gouache, you generally make one color on you palate into a light, medium and dark. Then paint, using the medium color first, adding the light and dark areas over that initial coloring. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE and have fun!
HERE ARE A FEW OF MY LATEST ILLUSTRATIONS USING GOUACHE AND WATERCOLOR:
One thing about being an artist is you are never bored, because you can always learn something new. Winsor & Newton has a great beginner set, and I also like Da Vinci, Holbein, and Utrecht's brands. I usually order my paints through the Blick catalog. I have also had a good experience using Strathmore Mixed Media 400 series paper. I HOPE YOU WILL ENJOY EXPERIMENTING AS MUCH AS I DID!
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