1. Super vibrant colors. Some colors just make me so happy to look at as I paint with them — bright pink, flame red, pool green. Most colors I mix from the primaries, but sometimes I buy tubes of other colors that I use a lot (like smalt blue) or that are more vibrant than I could create on my own (like opera pink).
2. Great color mixing. This is what first intrigued me about Holbein gouache, they claim they don’t turn muddy when mixed, and it’s true! You can mix very subtle and nuanced colors with a set of primaries.
3. Opacity. This means you can paint on colored paper, even black, unlike watercolors, which most people use on white paper only. Mixing a little white with any color will make it more opaque, which is why I have an extra large tube of white! I love being able to pick colorful background paper to work on. My favorite papers are canson mi-teintes and shin inbe, they don’t wrinkle too much and have beautiful color choices.
4. You can paint on paper. For me this makes my art practice a more exploratory process and less pressure to create a masterpiece. I buy large sheets of paper that I mentioned above (about $2 each) and cut them into quarters. Watercolor pads work too. I don’t worry about creating something perfect, I just sit down each day and paint. Most of my pieces never see the light of the internet and in fact end up in the recycling bin 😉
5. Easy set up and clean up. Gouache is water-based paint so all you need to get started is a palette of some sort (I use an enamel tray from the art store) and a jar of water. To clean my brushes and palette I just rinse them with a little hand soap and water. This makes it easier to build a painting habit because you can sit down for just 10-15 minutes, it doesn’t have to be a big production!
I started painting with the Holbein gouache primary starter set many years ago and I still think it’s a great place to begin!
What questions do you have about gouache?
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