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WHAT IS GOUACHE?! How to Use it in Mixed Media Art + Gouache Alternatives for Matte Finish Lovers!
What is GOUACHE anyway?! I get asked about the meaning of gouache all the time by my mixed media beginners. In today's mixed media art supply demo, I'll show you WHAT gouache is, explain WHY mixed media artists might want to use it, plus give you a demo of my favorite brands and gouache alternatives for EVERY budget.
If you've been searching for a gouache definition, info on gouache vs acrylic, gouache vs watercolor, or simply want to know about ALL the supplies - today's video is FOR YOU!
Are you new to mixed media art, or just wanna learn more about mixed media art supplies so you can create mixed media masterpieces instead of a hot mess?! You're in the RIGHT PLACE!
Simply click the button below to grab my FREE Supplies Guide!
Need a video of me explaining the Supplies Guide in Action, after you print it out? I've got you!!
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Everything I know about gouache, I've learned from my Scottish bestie, artist, Lucy Brydon (top right - that's us just a few short weeks ago, moments before we opened the doors to Wardhill Castle for our 2022 Castle Art Retreat!).
Lucy is truly a gouache artist! She loves painting portraits, animals and doing goache flower painting in the backgrounds of her work. Take a look at this recent piece she did of her dog, Miso! Isn't this gorgeous?!
If you look closely at Lucy's piece above, you'll notice there's no sheen to her paint, and it's very opaque. You might even guess that the painting was done in acrylics, but it wasn't, it's gouache.
Time for a quick gouache definition... Gouache is a watercolor that is totally opaque, and very, very matte. Take a closer look at the red background on my gouache portrait painting on the left, or the blue hair and skin tones in my girl on the right. This is the look gouache can help you achieve in your mixed media art projects.
Lots of students wonder about gouache vs acrylic paint. If you like a matte look, and that's really all you're after, why not just paint with acrylics?
Gouache doesn't behave like acrylics. Because it's actually watercolor, it's highly water reactive, it will keep reacting when water is added. This is really important to understand, because if you're working in layers, whenever you add a new layer of gouache on top of a previous layer, you can easily reactivate your bottom layer. Lots of artists love playing with these effects, but in case that's not YOU, stay with me, because I've got gouache alternatives to share with you today!
Before I get to today's demo, there are two other things you need to know about gouache...
1. Gouache works beautifully on ANY surface from cheap watercolor paper to wood or canvas (yup, I've tried them all!)
2. You DON'T need a a special gouache brush to work with this medium. In fact, I use my cheapies, because gouache texture is a thicker consistency than watercolor, but not quite as thick as acrylics. Choose a brush that is kind of inbetween a soft watercolor brush and a stiff acrylic paint brush. I recently found this brush set on Amazon for $7, and they're perfect for gouache!
Let's get to the demo. First I'm swatching a square of of red guache by Turner Design. I found this brand at my local Jerry's Artarama for about $15/tube.
In general gouache can get expensive, so if you're chasing that gorgeous matte look, stay with me to see how you can achieve that from a number of cheaper gouache alternatives.
The next product I'm testing today is an acrylic gouache by Liquitex. Since this is an acrylic paint, it's NOT water reactive, which some artists prefer. If this is you, you might want to consider trying a bottle (also around $15/color).
If you're in the mood to play with a watercolor gouache and don't want to spend a ton of money, check out Himi gouache. These are super interesting gouache "jelly cups." I purchased a set of 50 shades, for about $50. This type of gouache is very thick in consistency.
In case you DON'T want water solubility, Golden just came out with a line of "flat" acrylics. They're pretty pricey at $20 for a tiny jar, but if you compare it to the other brands of gouache and gouache alternatives I tested today, it's amazing quality for a matte finish, and I can't see any of my brush strokes like I can in the rest of today's swatches.
Another great "cheat" you can try if you're after that look of a super matte finish, is mixing your acrylic paint with matte medium. Now, if you're in my world, you know I use matte medium ALL THE TIME in my mixed media art projects as a type of glue for my collage because it's got great adhesive properties and is made to work with acrylic paint (which I typically use OVER my collage layers).
I recently discovered this "ultra matte" version of matte medium by Liquitex, and decided to test this out today mixed with a little acrylic paint to see how it compares to our other options.
In terms of opacity for the variations I tested today, Golden's So Flat line is definitely a notch above the rest. I can't see a single brush stroke line, so if this is the look you're after, and you can pay around $20/tube for it- I highly suggest choosing this one.
The Mattise Matte Acrylic is a runner up for me in terms of opacity, but still fairly expensive at $15 - 20 /tube.
The least opaque variation I tested today were the Himi gouache cups. These are also the cheapest option, and we all know you kinda get what you pay for. However, if you just want to experiment with gouache and love lots of color options for $1-2 / color - gouache jelly paint is your best bet.
If you're looking for a higher quality gouache, pretty much all the higher fine art brands carry them.I love this one (not tested today, but I often use this Winsor Newton Permanent White Gouache to add highlights on top of my watercolor pieces).
If opacity is what you're after, and you don't care about activating your matte layer with water, I highly suggest you consider one of the gouache alternatives I tested today - either the Liquitex acrylic gouache or Matisse Matte acylic. I think you'll be super happy with those!
Or, for even LESS of an investment, you can pick up a bottle of Liquitex Ultra Matte Medium for around $22. It will last you forever, and you can experiment with adding it any shade of acrylic paint or craft paint you already have on hand!
Make sure you click over to the video to see each of these gouache and acrylic alternative options side by side to see which one YOU might love most!
Do you LOVE fairies and fantasy art? I'm currently running a FREE drawing challenge called #50FunFabFairies over on my YouTube drawing channel.
Literally thousands of other artists - from beginners to advanced, are playing along. I set up a FREE classroom for the participants over at Awesome Art School. Come join in the fun!!
Today I'm spilling ALL my Mixed Media Painting SECRETS about WHY ACRYLIC PAINTS are best for layering. If you're a beginner in the world of mixed media art, or just curious about how many crazy types of acrylic paint are out there to help you make a little mixed media MAGIC - today's video is FOR YOU!
One of the biggest questions/complaints I get from my students has to do with using watercolors in mixed media art.
They always ask me WHERE in the Hamburger System to put their beloved watercolors, and WHY their watercolors "won't sit still" if they try to put mod podge over them.
If you know me, you know I LOVE some special time with my luscious Daniel Smith watercolors, Noodler's Ink, or really ANY watersoluble product I can get my hands on (black stabilo all, anyone?!)
The thing about watersoluble art supplies is... they are DESIGNED to move, not stay put - even if they're fully dry. Even something as simple as putting a layer of mod podge OVER watercolors to "seal" them...isn't gonna work. And right here is where I get most of the complaints from my watercolor lovers.
I'm a watercolor lover as much as the next girl. But, when it comes to acrylic painting vs watercolor for mixed media layering, acrylic paints win hands down because they DON'T MOVE.
They dry to a plastic, nonporous surface. What this means in the world of mixed media is that acrylics are AMAZING for layering (something we do a LOT of as mixed media artists)!
Acrylic paints are non-watersoluble, and don't re-activate. That fact alone makes them magical to TONS of artists.
My biggest advice to my watercolor lovers is to ... learn to USE (or love!) ACRYLICS whenever you intend to do lots of layering for your mixed media art!!
Don't worry, there are SO many types of acrylic paint out there. I'm actually gonna show you some THIN acrylics that behave kinda like watercolors, so stay with me!!
Here's a mixed media art example of a piece I created with some unique layering. AND, I did my collage later at a different point than I normally would if I were using my Hamburger System.
I typically love to start my mixed media art projects with collage. In the above mixed media portrait, I started with a layer of acrylic SPRAY PAINT (super FUN process)! Then I collaged over that, did some more acrylic painting, and collaged over that AGAIN.
The reason I could do that is because I was using acrylic paints!
Speaking of my Hamburger System, I've got a 1 page cheatsheet of this layering system I can send to you if you like. Simply click the button below, and I'll send it straight to your email!
There are LOTS of options when it comes to the types of acrylic paints on the market. Beginners, listen up, because this will help you understand your mixed media painting supplies SOOO much!
Each brand has a range of products you can try, depending on the type of effect you're in the mood for.
Additionally, most brands also have a "student" grade (like Liquitex Basics, featured below), if you don't want to spend a fortune on acrylic painting supplies.
I pulled together a wide variety of options to show you for today's acrylic painting demo so you have an idea of what each one does in case you're interested in trying them!
If you like the look of something chunky, you might want to try knife painting, or using a "heavy bodied" acrylic paint. This type of acrylic paint keeps its form, is very thick and opaque. Most heavy body acrylics come in tubes like the ones above.
HOWEVER...there are also heavy bodied paints that come in an applicator like the one below!
Check out this fun 3D Liner by Sennelier! This is a fine art product (that means it's light fast, and not moving around). It goes on kina like "puffy paints" for adults!! How fun is THAT?! You've gotta see how this works!
If you're interested in trying a softer bodied acrylic you might be interested in trying a line from Matisse called "Flow." It has a nice consistency to it, but if you're into knife painting, this isn't going to give you the texture you'll find in a heavy body acrylic.
Not only do the consistencies of acrylic paints vary, but their sheen will as well. Take a look at these GORGEOUS iridescents by Arteza!!
While you definitely can add acrylic painting mediums to your paints to get results like this, I tend to be in the kinda girl who wants to grab a bottle, know what to expect from it, and go!!
This is just pure fun. I mean, look at that GREEN!!
In addition to soft bodied acrylics, there are fluid or "high flow" acrylics. These are heading into the direction of a consistency similar to watercolors, and where my watercolor lovers need to listen up!
If you are one of the peeps adding water to your acrylic paints to get a thinner consistency out of them, please stop :) I say this with LOVE.
Adding water will alter the chemical makeup of your acrylics. For the most part, it's just going to dilute your colors so they won't be as vibrant as they would be in their natural state...right out of the tube.
You may not know this, but I don't even wet my paintbrushes prior to using my acrylics. Speaking of acrylic paintbrushes, if you need help understanding what paintbrushs to use, you'll want to check out this video. There are TONS of variations out there, so this will help to set you on the right path.
Golden makes a great line of fluid acrylics and even has some awesome transparent acrylics if you enjoy the look of a thinner wash. If you are interested in creating an effect similar to watercolors, but using acrylics- I recommend reaching for "high flow acrylics."
If you're in the mood for something EVEN "drippier," you have to try Liquitex acrylic inks! Make sure you click over to watch this video so you can SEE the drips!!!
SERIOUSLY soooo fun!!
Liquitex even put their professional, artist grade ink into some GIANT markers for us to play with (see below).
Who doesn't want a ginormous, hot pink marker FULL of paint?! These can help you make some quick splatters with zero effort.
Another fun acrylic product to try is called acrylic gouache. This is super matte when dry, and very flat.
Gouache actually comes in different forms, and may be something you've tried if you're into watercolor or have done any classes with my favorite Scottish bud, Lucy Brydon.
Liquitex has an awesome, artist grade acrylic gouache that is light fast and has a fun applicator tip you can play with.
While you absolutely can go out and buy a collection of ALL these acrylic painting supplies, you DON'T have to, because acrylic paints have a HUGE collection of mediums that were made just for this purpose - to change the properties of acrylic paints!!
How cool is that?!
There are literally DOZENS of acrylic painting mediums you can try.
The ones I pulled to show you are a handful of my favorites.
Sometimes there is a ratio of how much medium should be added to how much acrylic paint, so be sure you read the instructions on the side of your bottle to get the best effects.
If you're interested in the flat look of gouache, you might want to try Ultra Matte Medium by Liquitex.
If you watch my mixed media YouTube channel, you know I use matte medium all the time as an adhesive for my collage pieces, but it can also tone down the glossiness of your acrylic paints.
If you want to try thinning your acrylics, Golden makes a great airbrush medium that will thin your acrylic paints without diluting the pigment of your color!
So if you're one of my friends who reaches for water to thin your paints...stop! PLEASE use this instead!!
If you want your acrylics to behave more like oils, you can lengthen the drying time by adding a retarder.
If you want to get drizzly with your paint while playing with textures, you can add Clear Tar Gel by Golden to your acrylics!
PHEW!! That's a LOT of products!!
Of course there are more, but this is a helpful foundation of acrylic painting basics and will DEFINITELY get ya started.
Make sure you click over to actually WATCH this video because it helps to see what each product actually does on canvas!
Are you in the mood to do some acrylic painting now?!
I thougt so!! If you need a simple acrylic painting tutorial for beginners, this one is FREE, super cute and FUN!
Interested in doing some acrylic painting at home, or looking for acrylic painting online classes? This one is perfect for beginners if you're ready to step up your game!!
Thanks SO much for hanging out with me today!!
I hope you have a wonderful week!!!
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Founder of Awesome Art School. Mixed Media Artist. Author of 18 Instructional Art Books!
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