Sunday, 18 September 2011

Gouache Technique

Hippeastrum Bud in Gouache
I had a request from a friend to explain my technique in gouache painting;so heres a tutorial showing my method.

My gouache paints
I have Schminke artists quality,Winsor and newton designers and a couple of old Daler rowney goauche paints. The Schminkes and W/N's are good quality with no white added and so are not chalky and can stay on the palette.The Dalers are chalky-with white and fillers added;they form a hard lump on the palette and fall off-but I still have them-they're OK to mix- some I don't use

I have Schminke PY3 lemon yellow
Schminke  PY119 & PBk 9 raw sienna
Schminke Burnt sienna
Schminke PR101 english red
Schminke PV19 Quinacridone violet
Schminke PB27 Prussian  
Schminke PB29 ultramarine
Schminke PB16 Helio turquoise
Schminke PG36 & PO62 olive green
W/N PY35 & PO20 cadmium yellow
W/N PV23 winsor violet
W/N PR108 cadmium scarlet
W/N PR254 Winsor red
W/N PR122 quin. magenta
DR yellow ochre
DR Burnt sienna
DR coeruleum hue

I have mostly chosen paints with the same pigments as lightfast,transparent watercolours and are marked on the tubes as permanent;there are many fugitive gouache paints-and I stay away from those-like rose tyrian,spectrum violet and alizarin.

Heres the arranged palette-with the W/N white (PW6- titanium white) and W/N ivory black top left.
The white is added to lighten the hues and create high lights and the black (and other dark colours) are used to darken the tones. It is more difficult to get the right hues with the red and yellow paints.
I use synthetic brushes around size 2 to 4- or old sables that I no longer use for ordinary watercolours.

First of all I draw the chosen subject-an Anemone japonica 'Honorine Jobert', onto green mount card-you can use any colour card but it must be smooth.

The drawing shows up in white pencil.
Then start adding layers of white and tinted grey paint, mix it not too thick, not too thin. 

Just keep going -layering the paint and blending in. 

Be very careful though with the underlying layers as they can be lifted easily. This can make gouache a very frustrating medium to work with so lots of practise is needed.

Then after adding shadows and high-lights -start adding details-the best bit for me!

Here's the almost finished painting (you can keep fiddling!)-It took approx. 4 and a half hours to do this much.

With the actual flower
Here's a link to the Handprint website for a really in depth read up on gouache;

I hope this helps and inspires. xx


  1. Sensational! And you did it in such a short time Claire. Thanks so much for helping us to see gouache in progress - you make it look easy - but definitely very beautiful. White flowers are difficult in traditional watercolours but here they really seem to shine. Thank you so much.

  2. This is a real surprise. Thanks Claire!!!
    Eccezionale !!!!! My impression you are the right person to hask about gouache, was right.
    This week I'll have to work on it and tell you what have I done. I have WN gouache, bought at the Assign time, to use and so ready to study. Thanks to you kindess grazie mille
    whishing all the best renata

  3. Wow, thank you for the editorial.
    I'm just learning to paint with gouache. Your painting on green (or is it grey?) paper looks great! You inspired me to try this myself.
    Your gouache paintings are beautiful. The light and details are great.

  4. thats fab Jennifer-have fun with it :)

  5. Wonderful tutorial, and lovely result too. I have the same Anemone just starting to bloom in the garden, it's almost magical in the evenings.

  6. Stunning results and very generous of you to share... Thank you Claire. :)

  7. That's a very beautiful result and process. Would you be doing a videotutorial?

  8. Thanks ; Maybe one day,but no time at the minute