Gouache medium has been in use for a long time but these days it has become very popular among artists. It was used more for realistic paintings in the past but these days it is also used for other sorts of artworks as well because it is such a versatile medium.

Introduction to Gouache

Gouache is opaque in nature. Gouache looks like both the acrylic and watercolor.

Gouache looks like acrylic and water color

Gouache colors are water based. However, the colors do not become water resistant after drying like acrylic paints. We can re-wet the paint by adding water.

opaque nature of gouache colors

You can apply lighter colors over the darker due to the opacity of the paints which cannot be achieved by using watercolor. Thus it is fun to use because you can rework over your mistakes. These paints dry quickly which allows you to work fast and do layering without having to wait much.

Gouache paints possess the qualities of both acrylic and watercolor. In terms of opaqueness it is like acrylic but if we add more water, it can also work like watercolors. But you cannot work impasto with it like you can do with acrylic.

red shades in gouache

Mixing less water with the paint produces a thick consistency which allows you apply a flat color. This produces a very clean effect. This allows you to work in ways which you can never do with acrylic and watercolor.

Gouache gives beautiful, flat matte finish after drying. That is why it is used in illustrations, design, comic art etc.

Gouache Painting Examples

Here are a few paintings that I did; these demonstrate different ways in which this medium can be used.

Painting 1

Mixing less water with the paint produces a thick consistency which allows you apply a flat color. This produces a very clean effect. This allows you to work in ways which you can never do with acrylic and watercolor.

Here I have made a design of my own and then painted it in a flat thick paint.

Woman painted in gouache

Painting 2

It allows you to make designs and do layering and it doesn’t mix with the previous layers of paint. However, you have to be careful not to add too much water.

I made this beautiful leaf design by first painting the background in a flat wash of dark purple shade. Then I  painted leaves over it. The first layer of dark green shade than light green. And in the end, I have added small yellow designs to add little more brightness to the painting.

Green leaves with yellow highlight in gouache

Painting 3

Here I have made an illustration like you see in comics and cartoons and children’s books. In this painting, I have used the medium in both ways – transparent and opaque.

Kid like painting in gouache

Painting 4

You can apply a thin layer of color which is almost transparent as watercolor but it still shows the darker color underneath it.

I have made a poster on environmental degradation and used this technique to give the effect of water. I have applied a thin layer green paint in the end.

Underwater scene in Gouache painting

A fine Gouache painting example

Here is a Gouche painting by Franco-British painter Philippe-Jacques de Loutherbourg. This painting is displayed in the museum in Strasbourg, France.

By Ji-Elle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Try this wonderful medium and you will instantly fall in love with it. Explore and experiment with this medium and stop worrying about making mistakes.