Paint, Paper, Brushes

What is gouache? First of all, it's pronounced "g-wash" here in America ("goo-ash" in the UK.) It's also called opaque watercolor, so you can work light colors over darks, as well as correcting as many times as you need to! You can do a wash like a watercolor, blend like an oil, or drybrush like acrylic. It's easy and quick drying, cleans up with water, and leaves no stiff brushes. You can paint your masterpiece and mat and frame it the same day!


I love using juicy tube gouache. My current favorites are M. Graham and Winsor & Newton. As a longtime pastelist, one of the things I most like about gouache is its dusty, dull finish, so I prefer traditional ‘designer’ gouache over acrylic gouache, which sometimes has a shiny look.




I don't believe it's necessary to have every color in the rainbow in your palette, but as a certifiable color junkie I've purchased most of the M.Graham colors. If you're just starting out, I suggest a basic palette of primary and secondary colors, plus a large tube of white. Reeves, Maries, Lukas and French School are very inexpensive sets and will get your brushes wet, but you'll soon move on to fine art brands should you catch the bug for gouache. I suggest finding a set of M. Grahams, Winsor& Newton, Holbein, Daler Rowney, Schmincke, or Lefranc & Bourgeois.

I use Arches 300 lb.cold press watercolor paper, Illustration Board, Strathmore 140 lb. cold press, and Bristol Vellum, though I also enjoy using less traditional Pastelmat. All the work you see here is the standard ATC/ACEO size of 2.5" x 3.5". I usually list the paper I've used in the comments under each painting.

I have a wide range of small brushes, but I favor flats and filberts for the most part. I use synthetic brushes, not natural bristle ones. I favor my ½” wash brush, #4 filbert, ¼” angular shader, #0 round. 

I use a butcher's tray palette, as you can see in the photo above, though you can use either a small plastic palette or a white plate or dish. 

One habit of gouache I love is that you can re-wet the color any time. This means if I leave a paint-filled brush to dry, it washes right out. What a blessing! And you can use dried up paint that's been left on the palette, spraying it with a spritz of water, so you don't waste paint--although I also add a dab of fresh tube color when needed, as it behaves differently.

Please feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments under the paintings, or email me a debsecor (appropriate 'at' symbol here) gmail.com. I'll be happy to try to answer them for you.