Let's Get Your Creative Juices Flowing!!!
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!
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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!
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