Painting a portrait with Gouache

Ever since I was about 5 all I have painted with is watercolour, I got my first set from my parents as a birthday gift. It was all I would go on about until my parent relented and bought me my first set. It was pretty basic standard pan colours and a tiny brush this stood me in good stead until I was about 18 when I went to Art Uni, I would replace the pans of paint, but I always felt I wasn’t able to achieve strong colour with the pans I was using. Completely unaware that Gouache existed. Gouache paint is a mix between temper paint and watercolour it has a far higher pigmentation of colour. So when I discovered these little tubes of paint in my 3rd year of uni I was in my element. 

Ever since I was about 5 all I have painted with is watercolour, I got my first set from my parents as a birthday gift. It was all I would go on about until my parent relented and bought me my first set. It was pretty basic standard pan colours and a tiny brush this stood me in good stead until I was about 18 when I went to Art Uni, I would replace the pans of paint, but I always felt I wasn’t able to achieve strong colour with the pans I was using. Completely unaware that Gouache existed. Gouache paint is a mix between temper paint and watercolour it has a far higher pigmentation of colour. So when I discovered these little tubes of paint in my 3rd year of uni I was in my element.

They were rather pricey at the time but we had a pretty decent cheap suppliers near my uni down in Falmouth, so I had my heart set on perfecting the technique of using them, and now its pretty much all I use for my portraits. I’m a pretty messy artist so I always mix out a lot of colours before I start work, as this works best for me.

I always use fine brushes, pretty much synthetic 0.5-  6, I pick my paint brushes up from all over the place never opening more then £4, my favourite are from the works, these nylon round brushes are a favourite of mine. I do try and use the paint sparingly because Gouache isn’t the cheapest of paints, nowhere near the price of oils but I use mine until they completely run out. The two Gouache paint makers I rely heavily on are Winsor and Newton and Daler and Rowney I have in the past used Pebeo studio Gouache but to me they are far to runny and have less pigmentation when I use them, but that is total personal preference.

To me what matter is layering the colours, I start with the lightest colour first unlike watercolour you can layer on thicker, I discovered this was possible after seeing Anne Bond from Rifle paper company doing it with her floral designs and just fell in love with the versitility of the paint. So the trick often is start with lighter colours and go from there. Obviously knowing how to mix colours is always a bonus and getting skin colour right is vital but one thing I love adding to my portraits is lining the nose etc with a dark skin tone, even a red, I use a thin brush for this and it works wonders.

When painting with Gouache being bold is fun, its a medium that practice helps a lot, you can water them down like watercolours but when I’m painting my portraits I like them to be pretty solid. But remember you can use them anyway you like.

I created this portrait for Francesca Perks, but you can order yours with 40% off with the code HappyHalloween18 if you fancy your own over at Ella Masters Studio – plant background portrait.

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1 Comment

  1. Lisa Autumn
    November 4, 2018 / 8:23 am

    OMG you are seriously so talented babe!

    x Lisa | lisaautumn.com

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