Acrylic Gouache Adventures: Getting Started | Alanna Cartier | Skillshare

Acrylic Gouache Adventures: Getting Started

Alanna Cartier, Artist, illustrator

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23 Lessons (2h 45m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:40
    • 2. Your Projects!

      2:34
    • 3. Supplies I'll Be Using

      1:01
    • 4. A Note About Gouache

      2:06
    • 5. Acrylic Gouache Brands

      4:42
    • 6. Reading the Tubes

      3:42
    • 7. A Note About Colour

      1:23
    • 8. Other Supplies and Materials

      9:11
    • 9. Lesson One: Areas of Colour

      7:38
    • 10. Lesson One: Lines and Texture

      5:38
    • 11. Lesson One: Creating Swatches

      5:27
    • 12. Project One: Sketching

      2:47
    • 13. Project One: Painting

      25:58
    • 14. Lesson Two: Layering

      7:48
    • 15. Lesson Two: Brush Control

      10:28
    • 16. Project Two: Sketching

      3:37
    • 17. Project Two: Painting

      27:48
    • 18. Lesson Three: Intuitive Mixing

      9:54
    • 19. Lesson Three: Colour Mixing Chart

      6:07
    • 20. Project Three: Sketching

      2:13
    • 21. Project Three: Painting

      21:15
    • 22. Questions

      0:47
    • 23. Thank You!

      0:57
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About This Class

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Acrylic Gouache is a wonderful beginner-friendly medium, It's bright and fun, it's creamy to paint with, it dries fast and it layers like a dream. There's just one problem. There aren't very many resources to learn how to use it! Until now! This class will be the getting started guide I never had to teach you everything you need to bring your ideas to life in Acrylic Gouache! 


In this class, you'll learn everything you need to know to get started with Acrylic Gouache (on paper). We’ll cover how to control the ratio of water to paint to get exactly the effects you want (for lines and areas of colour!), how to layer colour and perfect your brush control, and how to mix custom colours and create swatches so you will be able to masterfully mix colour to create anything you can imagine. We’ll be painting three simple still-life projects to apply everything we've learned while we work together to uncover all the secrets of Acrylic Gouache!

So if you've been wanting to experiment with Acrylic Gouache but you didn't know where to start, or you have a few tubes of Acrylic Gouache tucked away that you were too nervous to try: now is the time! Let's grab our paint and get painting! 

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Alanna, and I am an artist, and illustrator, and a top teacher here on Skillshare. Back in 2017, I started out on an adventure with acrylic gouache. All the cool Illustrators I love were using it, so I splurged on a few tubes. But there was one problem, I had no idea how to use it. Unlike with watercolor, there just weren't a lot of resources available to help me learn about acrylic gouache, and there still aren't. I started experimenting and I haven't stopped since. I fell in love. Acrylic gouache is a fantastic, beginner friendly medium. It's bright and fun. It's creamy to paint with. It dries fast and it layers like a dream. Through trial and error, I discovered tricks and techniques to get the effects I wanted from acrylic gouache, and I want to share them with you. This class will be the getting started guide to acrylic gouache that I never had. We'll begin by exploring the supplies you'll need to get started, then we'll jump in to three lessons. Each section of the class will feature exercises, and one small project that we'll work through together step by step to apply the techniques we've learned. If you are looking for a deep dive into the beautiful world of acrylic gouache, this class is the one you've been waiting for. I can't wait to see what you create. Let's get started. 2. Your Projects!: In this class, we'll be working our way through three lessons, each with small exercises and a final still life painting project so that we can put our new skills into practice. Why still lifes you may ask? The answer is, I am absolutely obsessed. Since the 17th century, artists have been using still lifes as the perfect subject matter to learn, grow, and experiment. Still lifes offer the perfect opportunity to practice your skills with composition, color, brushwork, and texture while painting from real life instead of photo references. Unlike a landscape painting, a still life is not dependent on the weather. While I've included some reference photos for each project in the resource guide, I highly encourage you to find things around your home and paint from real life. It really is the best way to train your eye, rather than relying on a photograph where someone else has taken care of the composition for you. Now let's quickly go over the project for each lesson. In lesson 1, we'll be covering the fundamentals of working with acrylic wash. This will include finding your right ratio of paint to water to fill in areas and create consistent lines. We'll also be exploring the difference between opaque, translucent, and granulating paints. For lesson 1, our project will be a still life jug, jar, bottle, or pot. In lesson 2, we'll be moving to more complex compositions using layering. We'll also focus on brush control and fixing our mistakes. For lesson 2, your project will be to paint a still life floral arrangement. Then in lesson 3, we'll shift our focus to color. How to mix it using color mixing charts and playing on the page. For this lesson, your project will be a still life bowl of fruit. If you don't have fruit, vegetables will also work. Van Gogh himself painted potatoes more than once. When posting your project to Skillshare, I highly encourage you to include your exercises, your final project, the stories behind your piece, and what you learned. I absolutely love reading the stories behind your work and seeing your progress. If you don't know where to start, feel free to check out my project for inspiration. I can't wait to see the gorgeous things you create. 3. Supplies I'll Be Using: In the next few videos, we'll be covering a ton of information about acrylic gouache brands, colors, and other supplies you'll need to work with acrylic gouache. But I know that not all of you are going to need that in-depth information, so I thought, "Before we jumped into a detailed discussion of materials, I could provide you with a breakdown of all the supplies I'll be using in the course of this class." You can also find this list in the resource guide in the project section. So if you already have acrylic gouache, you don't need any more information about art supplies and you feel ready to jump right in, go for it, just do it. Just hop over to the video titled Lesson 1 to get started. For the rest of us, let's get ready to learn about art materials. 4. A Note About Gouache: Before we get started, I wanted to clarify exactly what we're talking about when we talk about acrylic gouache. There are two broad categories of gouache, traditional and acrylic. Traditional gouache is made with gum arabic like watercolor, and can be reanimated even after it is dried. It's chalky and it dries in a flat matte color. It may also be called designer's gouache, artist gouache, studio gouache, fine gouache, or inexplicably gwosh. It's not what we're focusing on in this class, although you would be able to do most of the exercises with traditional gouache. We are looking for acrylic gouache. It may also be called acrylic gouache or acryl gouache. I don't know why. Perhaps just to mess with us. Acrylic gouache is a medium that was designed to look like traditional gouache, but it has a base of acrylic paint. Acrylic gouache dries, matte, flat, and opaque, unlike traditional acrylic paint, which generally has some translucency. I find acrylic gouache to be much creamier than traditional gouache. Here's the magic bit. Unlike traditional gouache, acrylic gouache cannot be reactivated with water. This means that once your paint dries, there's no reusing it, but it also means you can paint it layer upon layer upon layer without the colors mixing together. It's great for covering mistakes and for creating detailed, layered compositions with vibrant color. Because acrylic gouache is based in acrylic paint, you can also use it on wood, canvas, glass, and other materials, but that will be the focus of feature classes. Here, we're going to focus on getting started on paper. Now that we understand what type of paint to look for, let's explore a few of the popular brands of acrylic gouache. 5. Acrylic Gouache Brands: In this section, we'll be covering a few acrylic gouache brands so you can feel confident that you're buying what's right for you. We'll be looking at Holbein, and Turner, and Liquitex brands gouache because those are the ones that my local arts store sell. Let's start with Holbein acrylic wash, my personal favorite. This is a professional quality acrylic wash paint loaded with pigment. It is the most expensive of the brands starting at about $0.38 per milliliter here in Canada. It's creamy and vibrant. There's also very little color shift between wet and dry paint, making it easy to match colors and mix paint. The Holbein acrylic wash is also very stable in the tube. I own more than 60 tubes of it, and not one has dried out or separated even though it takes me roughly one million years to finish off a tube. There are 107 colors available, including neons, pastels, ashley colors, and metallics. It's not an exhaustive range of colors, but more than enough for most purposes. Now, let's look at Turner acrylic wash. There are two varieties of the Turner acrylic wash, the regular acrylic wash and the Japanese colors. Both start at about $0.24 per milliliter. The regular acrylic wash is bright and vibrant and comes in a lot of colors and finishes; 167, to be precise. There are metallic colors, pearlescent colors, neons, pastels, grayish tones, and Lemay colors that will catch the light and glitter. I don't use a ton of Turner regular acrylic wash, although some artists love it. I find that it tends to separate or dry out in the tube, which really bugs me. When the paint seperates, I can just mix it together, but when it starts to dry out, that is a real problem because it can't be renovated, and it just becomes garbage, and I really don't like wasting paint. The Japanese colors are a little different. These Japanese paints have a slightly course texture designed to mimic traditional Japanese paints, which are made from crushed mineral pigments, shells, corals, and semi-precious stones. The paints are wonderfully creamy to work with but with a dry, slightly gritty texture that I absolutely love. There is actually a real chance that these Japanese color paints might become my favorites and beat out Holbein someday. I just got a bunch of new colors and I can't wait to play with them. There are 69 Japanese colors to choose from. The Japanese colors tend to be softer and lasts in your face than other brands. They include a lot of warm reds, soft yellows, and beautiful greens. They even have a blue black, which is the closest I've found to Payne's gray and acrylic gouache. Now, finally, let's look at Liquitex acrylic gouache. It's a new contender in the world of acrylic gouache. I bought a bottle when it first arrived at my art store because I love acrylic gouache and I was interested. It is the least expensive of the options we've discussed, coming in at about $0.19 per milliliter. But I found it to be a profound disappointment. It's not opaque nor matt, I'm not even sure it should be considered gouache. It dries in two tones, almost, because the pigment doesn't seem to be really well incorporated into the paint. It also dries shiny and translucent. I seriously advise against buying this brand. It's not even cheaper. Considering that it's meant to be used undiluted, so it's much more watery than the other paints. It also has the most limited range of colors. There are a few other brands of acrylic gouache. Most of them are not widely available, meaning they don't sell them at any of my local art stores, which is why I haven't reviewed them here. That being said, I highly recommend Holbein or Turner brand paints. The somewhat high price point can be a bit intimidating when you're starting out, but you will get much more consistent results and you will just have a much better time painting when you invest in good supplies. You don't need a lot of tips to get started. Now that we've covered the brands of acrylic gouache, let's look a little closer at the tubes to understand our paint. 6. Reading the Tubes: Fair warning. This video is going to get a little technical. We're about to delve into all the information you can find on each tube of Turner or Holbein acrylic Gouache. This information can help you match colors within a painting, mix colors confidently, ensure you have enough contrast and pick the right paints so that you're painting won't fade over time. Each tube of paint has the color name, the series number, and the color code on it. These are all specific to the brand and aren't helpful for much at all. The information we're looking for are the pigments, the light fastness rating, and the Munsell scale. On each tube of paint, you will find a three or four character code or a series of them that indicates the pigment used to create that color. If you want to get real nerdy, you can look up what those codes refer to at the link in the notes below. But what's most important to know is that the paints with fewer pigments are generally considered better for mixing since they will behave in a more consistent and predictable way. Finding paints that are made up of the same pigment can also help you find colors that go together because they have the same undertones or that can help you find substitutions when you run out of the color that you may really need. The pigments in a particular tube of paint can also relate to light fastness. On each tube, you will find a series of stars that indicate permanence or light fastness. This refers to whether the pigments in that particular tube of paint will fade over time when exposed to UV light. More stars means that that particular paint is more permanent. This won't really matter for images that you'll be scanning and manipulating digitally, but if you are using the paints to create a work of art to display it on your walls, you'll likely want to choose paints that won't fade when exposed to light. You'll notice here that the one star or unrated pigments already started to fade in my sunny window after as little as a week. Finally, on each tube, you will also find a Munsell scale, a little guide that gives you a lot of information. On tubes of Holbein paints, the Munsell scale is clearly laid out. You'll see hue, value, and chroma, all displayed in a little chart. The hue is the color. So for example, my peacock blue says ten BG for blue, green. The value is the darkness or lightness of hue. So the scale goes from 1 to 10, where lower numbers are darker. That peacock blue has a value of four, so it's slightly closer to the dark end of the spectrum. Finally, the chroma or saturation refers to how bright or muted the hue is. All of this information can help you to ensure that your colors go together, have enough contrast and aren't too dang bright. The Munsell scale also appears on Turner paints, but it's a bit harder to read. On the sticker label on the back of the tube, you'll find a series of numbers like this. The first number 341 is Turner's reference number for that specific color. The A is the series number. You don't need those at all. Then, that's where you'll find the Munsell scale, 2GY is the hue, 7.5 is the value, and six is the chroma. Now, let's move on to a quick note about color. 7. A Note About Colour: Let's talk for a minute about buying colors. A mixing set can be a great way to get started with acrylic gouache. Turner, Turner Japanesque, and Holbein all have lovely sets. They'll have primary colors and a black and a white, so you can mix all sorts of different hues. But if you are on a limited budget or those mixing sets leave you feeling a little uninspired, it is absolutely acceptable to just buy a few colors that you love. That's how I started my collection of acrylic gouache. You don't have to buy a full palette. You can just work in pinks or blues or greens if that's what sparks your interest and inspires you to paint. The colors that get you excited to paint are the best colors to work with. However, I do recommend a black, a white, and a few other tubes of gouache. If you choose to skip primary colors or colors that are close to primary colors, your intuitive mixing exercise in lesson 3 will look a little different. But the whole point of that exercise is to experiment with mixing colors to build a deeper understanding of your paint, so feel free to substitute colors as you see fit. Next up, we'll discuss the other tools and materials you'll need to work with acrylic gouache. 8. Other Supplies and Materials: In this section, we'll cover all the tools and materials you'll need to complete the exercises and projects for this class. We'll also cover how your choice of materials will affect your paintings so that you can confidently find the supplies that suit how you want to paint. Let's start by talking about paper. Paper can be described by weight or by density. Either way, you're looking for something strong enough to absorb paint without warping too much and without leaving little blobs of paint on the surface of your painting. Paper for gouache should be between 90 and 140 pounds or between 150 and and 300 GSM. Since acrylic gouache has a thicker consistency than watercolor, it can be used on thinner or less dense paper with surprisingly good results. However, on the lower end of the spectrum, your paper will be more likely to warp and paint may pool on your page a bit more since the paper won't absorb it. At the higher end, paper will be able to absorb more water, which will give you smoother areas of paint. When it comes to paper texture, you'll generally have three options: hot press, cold press, and rough. The paper textures can vary widely between brands, but in general, hot press is a very smooth paper with little to no paper texture or tooth. It's great when you're working with gouache and don't want any paper texture. It makes it very easy to scan in your images and clean them up. Cold pressed paper, on the other hand, has more paper texture or tooth. It has a medium amount of texture depending on the brand that you're using. You'll get more dry brushing on this paper and paint will stay put a bit more. Then there's a rough paper with texture to the max. This paper will add extra visual interest to your paintings. Personally, I love a lot of texture, but just keep in mind that digitizing rough paper takes a little extra time and effort if that's your plan. It may also be worth noting that if you are layering colored pencils on your gouache, a rough paper texture will prevent you from getting a smooth layer of colored pencil pigment on the page. The material your paper is made of can also impact your results while painting. Cotton paper is widely considered the best. It's absorbent in a way that tree-based paper just isn't. Cotton paper is usually more expensive. Brands that use cotton paper include Legion's Stonehenge, Arches, Fabriano, Artistical, and the fancier pads of Canson paper. Paper made of good old trees is another fine option, although you may find that it's less absorbent and less textured. You can also find recycled papers, bamboo papers, and plastic papers. I have not experimented with these. If you're just getting started, I'd suggest sticking with cotton or tree-based paper. Next is color. Most papers come in a crisp white, and that's a great place to start. Although some sketchbooks like the Moleskine Watercolor books have warmer white paper. That means it has a slightly yellowish tinge. If you're interested, Legion does carry many different colors of paper in their Stonehenge line, including black, warm white, fawn, craft, pale blue, and so many more. A quick note before we move on from paper. Some of the expensive papers can get quite pricey, and that's because they're made of better materials. They're going to absorb your paint more readily to give you consistent areas of color as opposed to a cheaper paper like this one, which is academic level brand from Michael's that doesn't absorb paint as well. The paint will sit on the surface of your paper rather than absorbing into it, can leave some streakiness and inconsistencies in color. I always suggest getting the best art supplies you can afford. But that doesn't mean stretching your budget to its very limit. For this class, I'll be using the Canson XL watercolor pads because they're a good quality and they give me enough paper to experiment without feeling too precious with my work. I can make mistakes and start over without feeling like I have to cry because I spent so much on the darn paper. Now, let's look at brushes. For acrylic gouache, I use watercolor brushes. Acrylic gouache doesn't reanimate and may dry on your brush. This is not the place for some fancy sable hair masterwork that costs more than a fancy dinner. I prefer good-quality synthetic brushes, but not great. Since they stand up to the scrubbing, I do to get the gouache out of the bristles, but I don't have to be too precious with them. My favorite brushes are the Escoda tame brushes. I get by with just three round brush sizes, a zero, two, and a four or six depending on the day. That's all I need to do 90 percent of my painting. But this will depend on what you'd like to paint. For this class, since we're painting mostly organic shapes, round brushes are probably a good bet. Flat brushes are better for painting square things like architecture or geometric shapes. I use my flat brushes for painting swatches. I have Princeton Neptune brushes for this purpose. They're quite expensive, but the seafoam green color was too much for me to pass up. A more affordable flat brush and a half inch size would certainly do the trick. After brushes, my most used tool is my pencil. I sketch out everything before I paint. This lets me focus on composition and planning while I sketch so that I have fewer decisions to make while I'm painting. If you're just starting out painting, I highly recommend sketching first because then when you put brush to paper, you'll have fewer decisions to make. My preferred pencils are the Prismacolor colored pencils, specifically a pale peach and non-photo blue colors, because the colors I use are so light, I often don't even erase any stray lines as they're just adding to a lovely gestural quality in my paintings. But the lines also erase pretty well. The other benefit of the colors pencils is that they don't smudge like a graphite pencil would. I'm super heavy handed when I'm sketching. So if I sketch with a real pencil, I end up with smudges and smears everywhere. When you're painting, all that extra graphite dust can mix with your paint and leave things looking a little bit gray. In general, watercolor paper won't tolerate a lot of erasing. It will disturb the fibers and might make your paint behave a little weird when you start painting. In cases where I'm planning to paint something complex, I sketch in my sketchbook or on my iPad, and then transfer the sketch to watercolor paper using my lightbox or carbon paper. I also use gouache tape to create crisp borders around the edges of my pages. I have masking tape, but I find it's way too sticky and tends to rip up the edges of my paper. Either way, I recommend sticking whatever tape you're using at the back of your hand first to lessen the stickiness a bit so that your page will be crisp and lovely when you remove the tape. I got this protip from the incomparable Dylan M. If you want a consistent border, you can also use a pencil and ruler to outline half-inch, a quarter inch border, then use those lines as the guides for where to put your tape. The last important thing you'll need for working with gouache is water since for painting. You'll need some vessel that hold water to add to the paint and wash your brushes. You may also enjoy using a little puppet or a spray bottle at just the right amount of water to your gouache. I also keep some master brush cleaner on hand to get all that acrylic gouache out of my bristles. A little goes a long way when you're working with small brushes. Finally, you'll need something to hold your paint. I use either a ceramic palette or palette paper, since they're both easy to clean and don't end up stained. You can easily scrub out the ceramic palette or toss the pallet paper after you fill it up. Since acrylic gouache does not reactivate with water, you want something easy to clean or toss away. I also use paper towel to dry my brush and just to control the amount of paint on my bristles. I'll reuse a piece of paper towel from roughly one million years, if we can tell. That's it. That's everything you might need to know. Let's jump into our first lesson about your water to paint ratio. 9. Lesson One: Areas of Colour: Hello, and welcome to our very first lesson. Throughout this video, we'll be focusing on getting the right ratio of paint to water, or I should say, finding our right ratio of paint to water, because there's not actually one right way to use acrylic Gouache. This first exercise is to find the right ratio for you in order to fill in big areas of color. We'll be painting a series of squares or rectangles in varying opacities of paint to get a feel for how our paint works. All you'll need is a pencil, an eraser, a piece of watercolor paper or your sketchbook, either one will do, and some Gouache, and I guess also a brush and water and all those things that you need to use Gouache. You may be tempted to just watch me doing this exercise by it. I encourage you to grab your paints and try it for yourself. Each tube of acrylic Gouache has a different personality because of the different pigments that make up each tube of paint. Please grab a few tubes of paint and let's get started. While I've included letter size templates that you can print off and trace, I'm sketching my guidelines out with a ruler because I just love using a ruler apparently. Any way that you want to sketch out your guides for these experiments is absolutely perfect. I'm sketching out guides to create a five-by-five grid so that I can explore my ratio of paint to water with five different paints. If you have more paints, you can tailor this to whatever size you need. Once I have my guides on my watercolor paper, I'm just going to tape the edges. This will give me a crisp, clear line at the edges of my painting and will also prevent my paper from warping if I use a bit too much water or if I'm using less expensive paper. Generally, you want to tape to the very edge, but I'm not too worried about this warping because it's just an exercise. I'm not creating a finished painting. Once we have our paper taped down, we can begin to paint. Grab a tube. Any tube of Gouache and squeeze it out into your palette or palette paper. I'm using a few particular colors so that I can show you some of the properties of acrylic Gouache. This first color is light magenta, and I am going to use it almost entirely undiluted. I'm just going to wet my brush and paint in my first rectangle. Even though we're using the paint thick, we don't want to leave it thick on the page. I want to smooth out my pain into an even layer to prevent cracking because unlike acrylic paint, acrylic Gouache isn't great for creating three-dimensional texture on your page. The first thing you'll notice is that the Gouache is very thick and not altogether that spreadable. I've even added a little bit more water so that I can get crisp lines to the edge. With this opacity of paint, it's very easy to get dry brushing effects and your color is generally going to be opaque. Especially with a color like this, light magenta that is a chalkier color, that is opaque at pretty much any consistency. Now, we're going to add a little bit more water and move on to the next box in this row. You'll notice that as soon as you start to add the slightest amount of water, you'll start to get more texture. You'll be able to see your brushstrokes, which means that I often consider my brush strokes as in painting. In this case, because it's a rectangle I try to keep the brushstrokes pretty parallel along the rectangle. I really enjoy using Gouache at different opacities for different things. Paint at this middle opacity where it's very translucent is something I love for layering and building up color. On the other hand, I'd use a thick opacity of paint for a base coat of paint at the beginning of a painting to create a consistent layer of color below everything. It may be worth noting that while acrylic paint can start to flake if you water it down too much, I've never had that problem with acrylic Gouache. These final consistencies of paint are ones that I rarely use on their own, but I like to add little splashes of water as I'm painting, to create areas of less translucency and areas of more translucency to add a lot of depth to my paintings. Now, that we're finished our first row, let's grab a few more tubes of paint to explore how they behave at different ratios of paint to water. Now, that we've created scales with a few of our tubes of paint we can begin to see the differences between each two. That first tube of magenta is very opaque compared to all of the other colors. Whereas that Prussian blue next to it is very translucent. It's actually one of my favorite colors to work with, but it's never going to be opaque unless you add other colors to it. You can see the brush strokes even when it comes right out of the tube. As you water it down, it does start to granulate a little bit. The third color there, the Japonesque color paint, has a lot of gritty texture that you don't find in the other paints. You can see the brush strokes a little bit, but it is more opaque than either of the colors on either side of it. As you water it down, it stays pretty consistent. It doesn't granulate. Whereas as we move to our fourth row, this rose color does some crazy stuff. It's a pigment I really love to work with. It is not light stable. It will fade over time because it has fluorescent pigment in it. But it granulates out the wazoo as soon as you add any water to it, and you get great brushstrokes right out of the tube. It's a really creamy paint to work with. Another paint that I really love working with is this final smalt blue. It is more opaque like our light magenta, but you do get a little bit of brushstrokes with it. Now, that we've finished this exercise, I invite you to go and paint, if you haven't already. Try this out. You can see just from these few examples, the different personalities you can find in your tubes of Gouache. In the next part of this lesson, we'll be exploring our ratio of paint to water, focusing on creating lines exactly how you want them. 10. Lesson One: Lines and Texture: In this section, we'll be exploring lines and textures with acrylic Gouache. The thinness or thickness of each tube of paint, along with the ratio of paint to water will affect the type of lines you can make, whether they'll be expressive and a bit gloppy and unpredictable or whether it will be smooth, crisp, and clear. I'm going to use the exact same colors for this experiment as I used for the first lesson on areas of color because I think it'll give us a chance to really explore the qualities of these paints. We already know which are translucent, which are opaque, and which do crazy stuff. Let's see how that affects our lines. We'll do two rows of rectangles for each color. I'll start in the very first rectangle, making lines with undiluted paint. This is a chalky paint and you can tell from how I'm trying to make lines that it doesn't create very consistent lines when it's undiluted. The paint won't flow down the brush, so you'll get areas of thick and thin, which is great for expressive lines or creating certain textures, but not so great for when you're looking to outline a shape or create smooth and uniform lines. Now, we'll try a bigger brush and a more expressive line with curves and bends. In the same way, we see a lot of variations in color and size of the line. Next, let's focus on just a fun, quick texture to see how little strokes of paint behave. You'll see because the paint is gloppy on the brush, it creates really inconsistent hatch marks. some are very small, some are very thick, some are more dry brushing in effect, and some are very opaque. Now, let's water down the paint to 50 percent and repeat the same three short experiments. We'll begin first with lines and our small brush. Already these lines are a lot more delicate and consistent. Even if I am painting at the strange angle and making them a bit wobbly, you can get a lot more detail with a wetter paint. Even though these lines are a little bit less opaque and can get quite pale, you're much more likely to get consistent and predictable lines when your paint is thinner. That is, when you have more water in it. If you want a more opaque color, you can go over it in multiple layers. That is the magic of acrylic Gouache. I'm just doing some textured hatching now with the same diluted paint, and you can see that the color is a lot more consistent. The strokes are a lot more consistent. They're more delicate and they are a lot lighter. But that's okay, so long as that's what you are expecting. Now that we finished these little experiments with our first color, let's try a few other colors to see how they behave. Now that we've finished painting all of the colors, we can begin to notice patterns in the way that the paint behaves. The first thing to notice is that undiluted paint gives you unpredictable lines, whether you're hatching or creating line work. What we can draw from this is that whenever we are looking to create consistent and smooth straight lines, just add more water to your paint. It's gonna make your life a lot easier. The other thing that we can notice is that these chalky paints are a lot thicker, even straight out of the tube than the translucent paints. Translucent paints can create some consistent lines and more detailed patchwork, but they're still going to get more beautiful, consistent lines if you water it down. That being said, that rose color is still going to give you some very cool effects, even watered down because it's a granulating paint. You'll get lots of dimension in your lines and lots of gradation in your thicker, more expressive line work. Now that we understand the ratio of paint, we need to get the effects that we want in our line work. We're going to move on to a foundational part of my practice, making swatches of all the paint that I have so that I can understand the colors. 11. Lesson One: Creating Swatches: The next foundational thing that I do to work with acrylic gouache is create swatches. I create swatches of every single color of paint that I have. First of all, because the colors on the tube are not accurate, creating swatches lets me know exactly what color of paint is in the tube, how it's going to show up on the paper that I use and it's going to give me an understanding of the properties of that particular tube of paint; whether it's opaque or translucent, whether it's going to granulate, all of those things. There are so many different ways to create swatches. You can use loose watercolor paper or your sketchbook but I love loose gouaches because I can mix and match them to come up with color palettes. Here's my method for making swatches that demonstrate the opacity of my paint. First, I take a 2 inch by 3 inch square of watercolor paper. I have a fancy paper cutter that I use to cut these but you can absolutely just use scissors or tear them if you want. I use a little ruler to measure 1 one from the bottom. This is where I'm going to put all of my paint information; the color name, the number, the brand, so I know exactly what paint this swatch refers to. Then, I'm going to tape it down. You absolutely don't have to tape it down. I just do this that I have a crisp line between where I'm writing and where my paint is. I also like to put a piece of palette paper behind to protect my desk. Acrylic gouache will just scrub off of most surfaces but if I don't have to scrub my desk after making swatches, then that is really a bonus. Now, I just squeeze out my paint. Just like we've been doing for all of the exercises so far, I like to include two opacities of paint on my swatches. I like to use undiluted along the top so I can see it's most opaque properties. Then I dunk my brush in water and finish out the swatch with a diluted version of the paint. You don't need a lot of paint for this, so you're definitely not wasting any paint. Then, I just go in and crisp up any of the edges to make sure it's fully covered in color. You may have also noticed that I just pulled a cat hair out of my swatch as well. I have a cat and that means that often her hair gets into my paintings. Sometimes you can just pluck it out with a wet brush but if that doesn't work, grab a dryer brush and just use that to pull the hair out or if you don't care, just leave it there. Now, let's just tear off our tape and write our identifying information. Sometimes, I'll use a waterproof pen for this, but right now I'm just using pencil because pencil is also waterproof and I can change it if my handwriting is terrible. You do want to use something waterproof if you're anything like me, because I use these swatches a lot. They sit around my art desk, they get smudged and smeared and pushed around and if they had a non-waterproof paint, they would quickly become illegible. If you want a fancier way to make swatches, I recommend using this. This is great if you're using your swatches as props for when you're taking photos of your work or if you really want just clear visual information about the colors that you're using. This creates each swatch as its own tiny little artwork. I start by just creating a quarter inch border around the edge of my 2 inch by 3 inch paper. Then, I'll tape around that sketched border in order to create crisp, clean lines without having to focus on my brushwork. Now, I'll just fill in that rectangle with my color. You can use the same method we used before, where we gradient the color in order to see more of the qualities of the paint or as I'm doing here, you could just create a swatch of one single opacity of paint, whatever opacity you like working with, whatever color of the paint is going to give you the most information that you need when you're painting. Now, I'll just dry it off and remove my tape. I'll put all of my information about the brand, the number, and the name of this paint on the back of the card so it won't be visually cluttered on the front where I'll be using it. I repeat this process with every single tube of paint that I own to understand each tube of paint and to use as your visual reference to come up with color palettes for my paintings. Now, that we have our swatches and we have a thorough understanding of the ratio of paint to water that we like to use, let's move into our very first painting. It's still-life jug, jar, bottle or pot. 12. Project One: Sketching: For this project, I'll be working with a 9x6 piece of watercolor paper. It's just one of the Canson XL pieces of paper cut in half. By cutting the paper in half, I've just given myself smaller areas covered with paints. I can focus more on the painting. Feel free to work with your watercolor paper at any size that you want. I start like I start all of my paintings: by creating a border around the edge. This will ensure that my work is centered and just creates a more professional-looking frame for my painting. As soon as this border is done, I'm going to start sketching. I chose to sketch in Procreate because it makes me feel a lot less anxious. I'm not a competent sketcher even though I've been doing it for so long. I like to sketch on something that's not my watercolor paper, so I don't end up marring the surface with hard pencil lines and eraser marks. You can sketch in your sketch book, on your paper, or any way that you feel most comfortable. As a self-identified shape person, I don't love sketching because it's so dependent on line. I tend to do a very loose sketch that I can hone and change as I'm painting, because paint is a much more shape-based medium. I'm just pushing around big areas of color. I start all my sketching by focusing on the negative space, that is the area around my subject rather than the subject itself. This really works with my shape-based brain because it's a much clearer shape and you can ignore most of the details. After I've focused on that and have a rough outline, I hone it to become a crisp outline, and then I add detail last. All in all, my sketch took just about 10 minutes, which isn't altogether that long, no matter how bad I tell myself I am at sketching. You'll notice that my spout is a little bit wonky and imperfect, but that's okay. Your sketch doesn't have to look like what you're seeing in front of you. The beauty of painting a still life is interpreting what you see in your own way. So if it looks a little bit off, that's all right. Now, I'll just transfer my sketch to watercolor paper. You can do this using a light box, a sunny window, or carbon transfer paper, but whatever way you use, it will be just fine. Now, let's get to painting. 13. Project One: Painting: Now that we have our sketch transfer to watercolor paper, I tape down my paper, this just prevents the paper from warping. You want to tape to the edge of the page if you're trying to prevent warping, but this is just a project for this class, and it's not a finished illustration that I'm going to be using or selling, so I'm playing it a little loose. If you're worried that your tape is too sticky, feel free to stick it to your arm or your desk first, then peel it up and stick it to your painting, so you don't risk ripping the edges. My next step when I begin a painting is to choose base colors. Since I'm not planning to mix any colors for this project, I am just choosing for my swatches. These are the colors I thought would suit the design I want to make. All of the browns for my jug, and some purpley colors to compliment it from my background. I'm going to start with a light purple for my background behind the jug. I always like to start with the background instead of the jug because I can paint over gouache. If I'm a little messy with my background, that's fine. I can just clean it up as I paint my jug. Saves time, and it's really fun to start off by just painting big areas of color. I'm going to try to not paint too much over into the area that my jug is going to be because I don't want to layer too much paint, because you will have some translucency, and be able to see some of the color through. I also tend to do my base layer in pretty thick wash. This is basically the thickest that I use it. It does have some brushstrokes, especially in this color, but it is mostly opaque and flat. It's not watery. You're not seeing too much of the paper through. This is just so that I have a consistent area of color behind my painting, to begin building up depth and layers. I tend to mix up my gouache with water in small quantities, if I'm just mixing from the tube. That way, I don't have to worry about wasting a whole bunch of paint. But if I'm mixing colors from multiple colors, I tend to mix a lot more that way I don't have to worry about getting a consistent mix every time because I'll have enough paint for whatever I want to use it for. As I'm painting across this big area, it's drying because gouache dries fast. I'm just cleaning up the edges and adding an extra layer of paint to the areas that I think could use some more opacity. Now I'll switch to my next color. I like to use two different shades of the same color for my backgrounds in these because I want the focus to be on my subject, the jug, not on a fancy pants background. In this case, I'm going to just use a dark purple. You'll notice every time I'm filling in a big area of color, when I first dunk my brush into the gouache, I don't go for the edges of the things I want to outline. I go for the big areas. Only after that do I begin to move towards the more precise edges that I want to make. This just means that I have less thick gouache on my brush. It gives me a little bit more control over the area that I'm painting. You may also notice that I go over the same areas more than once. This is just to ensure that I have a smooth and consistent layer of paint. As I mentioned in the Areas of Paint video, acrylic gouache doesn't have the same qualities as acrylic paint. You can't leave it thick and textured in three dimensions because it will crack. Instead, I like to go over all of the areas that I painted multiple times, to ensure that they are smooth and will dry just the way that I want them to. Now, we're going to move on to the base layer on our jug. First thing you may notice is, "Hey lady, that yellow is not the yellow for your modeled, old, dingy, brass jug". I know that guys, but I always like to start the areas that I'm going to add details to, especially something as funky as that jug in the lightest possible color. Even though you can layer gouache, it's always easiest to layer dark colors on top of light because you are going to get some translucency. Some of that base color is going to come through. Also, it's just going to make it a lot easier to give my jug highlights, because light colors are a little bit harder layer on top of dark colors, this will make it so that I have a great base to make bright and shiny face. If you have a lot of details on your jug, this is the part where they might start to get a bit muddy. This is another reason I like to sketch in a program like Procreate or in a sketchbook, because then I always have the pristine copy of my sketch that I could use as a reference, so that I know where my details should land. Now that I'm filling the inside of this more complex space, I've actually switched to a smaller brush. I mean I could absolutely be using my bigger brush. Most of these spaces aren't that detailed, but this just gives me a lot more control over the areas in which I'm working. You'll also see that I'm adding a few extra lines, details just to point out to myself where those details are going to lie once I start adding layers of paint. Now that I'm working on my subject instead of my backgrounds, I'm paying particular attention to my brush strokes. Because I work with my gouache at an opacity where you can see the brush strokes, they're going to be visible in my finished painting. So I want to make sure that they're complementing the shape that I'm painting. On the round portions of my jug, I'm following the curves and on the straight portions, I'm going in a parallel motion to the sides of the jog. As I follow this handle, I'm curving along the handle. It would be jarring to see brushstrokes going across the handle because that's not how our eye wants to see those leading lines. Something you can't see is happening off camera, I probably should have mentioned it before now, I have a jug of water just to the side of where I'm painting. I dip my brush in there to wash it off in-between colors, but I also just dip it in their intermittently to keep my brush moist and to ensure that no gouache dries on my brush, because it's just not fun to clean off. I'm moving to the first layer of depth on my jug now. It is really watery. I actually was just a little afraid of creating all of the texture on the jug, so I wanted to start with something that wasn't going to be- Undoable, if that makes sense. I wanted to make sure it was light enough color that could paint over any areas that don't look the way that I wanted to. As I start, I'm just looking for darker areas on the jug. Whatever areas have those shadows, that's where I'm putting the paint. I'm not trying to be too precious. I mean, I am using like the world smallest brush for some reason, even though I could be using a bigger brush at this point but that's okay. When you're trying to recluse, it is generally better to use a bigger brush because you just get more unpredictable lines, and it gives you a little bit less to be precious about. One thing you'll also notice is that I'm not just outlining my jug. Turns out, that's a rookie mistake that I made for quite some time. When you put a harsh outline on the outside of the shape that you're trying to make look three-dimensional, it just makes it look off. Because the reality is, is that not all edges on your shape are going to be hard lines. So just pay attention to which edges hub dark shadows in which don't. You'll notice as I'm painting through this, every so often I'll go back and add a darker color to certain areas of the jug. This is because that area of my paint has dried so I can keep building up layers of color. If you try and layer the color in while it's still wet, it won't create a layer of color, it'll just merge together. But once it's dried, you can build up darker colors by layering over the areas that you've already painted. If you want to speed up the drying process, you can absolutely use a blow dryer. It will just make it so much faster. I generally use one all the time, but I didn't bring my blow dryer over to the table where I'm painting in this section. If you are using a blow dryer to dry your work, you just want to make extra sure that there aren't pools of water or paint because the blow dryer will push those around. It's another reason to make sure you smoothing out your paint as you go. Now, I'll be moving on to the next shade I'll be using, a darker, raw amber. I really like this shade because I think it's got some green to it, and I think it'll really make it look like tarnished brass. I'm going to water this paint down quite significantly, just like I did with the first shade I used on my jug because I want so many of the under colors to show through. You'll also notice that when I'm watering paints down quite a lot, I start by putting a drop in my palette and watering it down and then I'll move some paint to another little well and add more water. For me this just gives me more control about the amount of pigment and paint that I have at my disposal. I can add more pigment as needed without having to squeeze more out of the tube, and I can add more water as I see fit. Throughout this whole process. I'm constantly looking at my jug. I'm not at the stage yet where my painting speaks for itself, so I'm not looking to the shapes that I've already made to figure out where the highlights would be. I'm constantly referencing back and forth, looking at my jug, pausing and reflecting on where the light and shadows lie. Another technique I like to use is leaving a wet edge as I'm working. This is a common technique in watercolor, but I find it works really well with gouache too, especially when you're using it in this non opaque way. If I leave a wet edge in the area that I'm working in, I can continue to add color and it will look like one seamless area of color. Whereas if I let the edge dry or if I use the paint very thinly at the edge of what I'm working on, it will create distinct different areas of color as the gouache layers over itself. You've also just witnessed one of my favorite techniques and that is just using my hands. Oftentimes, a brush will have a little bit of pigment or a little bit of water, so if I'm looking to blend out the edge of what I'm working on, sometimes I'll just push the paint around with my finger. It is very messy and it really appeals to my inner child and it works. You might reach this stage of your painting and despair. This is what I call the ugly phase. You're painting is halfway towards becoming something real, like a real painting of a thing but it's not quite there yet. Most of your ideas are half-finished and it's really easy to get into your own head at this point. I know I do. The thing is, is that you can't judge a painting by its middle and if you stop now, you're painting is never going to get to that pretty phase. It's always going to stay in the ugly phase and you might even end up telling yourself this story about how you can't really paint because you always just make ugly things. But the trick to getting out of the ugly phase is actually very simple. It's just perseverance and trust. You got to trust that your eye is seeing the right things and trust that your hand can mimic them. Even if you're still learning, that is okay. Because the more that you do this and push through and allow yourself to solve creative problems on the fly, the more confident your hand and your eyes are going to get. I've moved on to a darker shade now. It's actually just the same paint. This is the raw amber and it just has slightly less water now. I've just drawn some of that more highly pigmented paint from my center well, into the well I'm working from. I'm just going through and adding even more depth and dimension. For me, I love adding layer upon layer upon layer of paint in order to add detail and dimension. It's an easy way to make it less pressure. Because if I went in with a really dark color of gouache right away, and I don't have my shadows in quite the right place, then it's going to be a lot harder to go over that and make it the right color afterwards. You'll even notice that I'm actually leaving my highlights probably bigger than they are on the original vase and that's just because it's hard to go in and add highlights afterwards that look quite as vibrant. So I'm being very cautious about the way in which I step into those areas with my paint. I don't want to add too much color too soon. As I'm working with darker colors, you'll start to notice that I start to use my paper towel a lot. This is just to control the exact amount of liquid that is on my brush. I don't want my brush to be too wet and too dark, and I don't want my brush to be unpredictable, especially when I'm doing thinner, more controlled lines, like what I'm doing right now. That being said, I just went over it with big, mushy paint. Nevertheless, the technique is the same. For consistent lines that are very predictable, you want to control the amount of water on your brush and that includes making sure there are no drips on the metal bit of your brush. Because if there are trips up there, as you're painting, they're going to pull down into your bristles and add more water to your paint than you're expecting. So just make sure after you've rinsed your brush, that you're wiping off any spare droplets. I'm just going to keep adding layers of depth and dimension until we get to the part where I begin to add details. Then we'll tackle the handle, shadows, all the other bits we need to bring this painting together. I've now grabbed my teeny tiniest brush to begin capturing the details of my jug. I'm using thin paint to create crisp, clean, consistent lines. You'll notice that I spent a lot of time right now just swirling my paint, making sure that I have absolutely the right amount of paint on my brush. Because with detailed lines like this, it's really hard to undo them because I have so much depth and texture underneath them. The other thing to keep in mind is that these detailed lines don't have to be perfect. I'm trying to paint what I see, but the beauty of a still life is painting what you see through your own eyes. If the lines end up a little bit wobbly or an uneven or it end up quite exactly where you plan for them to be, that's okay. You don't have to redo them. You could just embrace the unpredictability, the process of painting and go from there. I started by painting my lines quite far apart and decided that wasn't what I wanted. So I just filled in with more lines in between. Your jug, jar, bottle or pot, might have totally different details than mine. In fact, it almost definitely has totally different details than mine, but you can just trust your gut and what you see. Are you painting a jar with beautiful little floral motifs spread across the surface or type, or who knows what else could be on your beautiful thing that you're painting in person. But you can trust your eyes, trust what you're seeing, and just follow it and embrace being loose and expressive with your details. They don't have to look like the jug that you see before you. You are creating a totally separate thing, a still life painting by yours truly. It doesn't have to reflect real life. My job that I am painting doesn't look exactly like the one I see before me, especially the spout part. I don't know why, but I think it's the angle that I'm sitting at. Every time I look at it, I see into the opening and it makes the spout come on all funky. But that's alright. I'm embracing it and I want to see where it takes me. Because a painting, unlike a photograph, doesn't have to look like real life. You aren't a camera. You are a human being with a wobbly, unpredictable hand. Now, I've started to work on the handle. When I work on a handle like this I'm paying particular attention to the shadows, because sometimes if you don't, the handle's going to look like it's floating above your vase or jug, or it's going to look like it's not really attached. You want to make sure you're grounding it with shadows exactly where you see them. Shadows are the most magic bit when you're painting and they're my current obsession, probably why I'm so obsess with still lifes. Shadows give your work weight. They make it feel like it's resting on something or sitting in space. I'm focusing on the shadows on the underneath portion on the top of that handle and the side portion facing to the outside. I'm also putting shadows underneath that strange little detail on my handle of my jug. When working in a small area like this handle, you might find that you have to add shadows and then come back in with highlights and that's okay. It's really hard working in small areas and making shadows just where you want them to be. I alternate between light and dark as the paint dries to make sure that I have my shadows and highlights where I want them. One thing to remember as you're working your way through any painting is that, more often than not, your viewers eye is going to be drawn wherever you spend the most time. For me, I don't mind fussing with this spout for a very long time. I don't mind if people have their eyes drawn there even though it's wonky. But if there's something in your painting that you don't love, swoosh some paint on there, and move on. Because the more detail, and layers, and time that you spend in that area, the more focus it's going to draw in the middle of your painting. Now, I'm moving on to adding in a few highlights just to give my vase a little bit extra life. I'm also going in with a little bit of my background color to clean up the edges anywhere that I've over painted what I wanted, or to fix the shape of anything that I'm not sure about. I'm just going to continue fixing out these small details, adding shading and a little bit more polish to any areas that I think need it. When you reach this stage of a painting, it can be really hard to tell when it's finished. You can spend a million years adding small details, tweaking this thing and that thing, adding shading and highlights. But the reality is that a painting is finished whenever you say it's finished, that's really the only guiding factor you have. The more you paint, the more you'll learn to listen to that little voice inside of you that will tell you, I think we're there. I think we've made it. If you're not sure, it's always a great idea to just set a painting aside until tomorrow or for a few days and come back to it, because there's never any harm in doing that. I've just grabbed some white paint, which I'm mixing with that initial Naples yellow to add in some highlights anywhere I think they need it. You'll notice that at this stage of the process, when adding highlights, that's where I get most finger-painting because I want the highlights to be soft. That is just my personal preference. You're more than welcome to add bold, painterly highlights anywhere you want. I'm just paying particular attention to anywhere the light hits my jug, especially hard. One thing you may notice is that my jug actually seems to have two light points and that's because I'm using a light bounce for filming this to get the light more even. But it means that my jug has light from the window on one side and reflected light from my light bounce on the other side. If you're painting near a white wall or window, you might find that your jug also has two light points, because of the light being reflected back on your jug from your main light source. Now, all that's left to do is to add my final shadow, the shadow that will situate my jog on the surface on which it sits. I'm using a black purple from Turner's Japanese Klein because I love it. But I'm going to get down like crazy so that my shadow will be a bit software. By adding a lot of water it also just gives me a lot of water to move around to get blobby, and blotchy, and brushstrokey parts of the shadow, because I want it to be a little bit cookie. I don't want it to be a perfect shadow for the object that I'm looking at, especially because I'm shooting in a pretty bright room and my jug doesn't actually have much of a shadow. Feel free to use your own interpretation of how to add shadows. As we're finishing up this painting, I wanted to take a minute to tell you that painting takes time, which sounds like the most absurd thing to say. But for me, I'm often in a rush. I feel like if this video is 30 minutes, that lady painted it in 30 minutes, why is my painting taking me so much longer? But the reality is this footage is sped up. Guys, this painting took me two full hours. Your painting may take longer or shorter than that depending on how you paint, how much detail you add, how much time you want to spend. But there's no rush when you're painting. You can take as long as you need to take. Now that we've finished our very first project, let's move into our second lesson where we'll explore layering our paint. 14. Lesson Two: Layering: Hello and welcome to Lesson Number 2. In this lesson, we're going to be focusing on layering and brush control. Our first exercise will be to layer light colors on top of dark, and dark colors on top of light. I printed off a template of a bunch of circles and you can find a template in the resource guide in the project section. This one might be a bit harder to sketch by hand because you can't draw circles with a ruler. But if you have something circular on your desk that you just want to trace, that will work wonderfully as well. Just make sure that there'll be enough area within your circle that you'll be able to see variations in color and translucency of your paint. For this exercise, I picked five different colors of paint that I'll be using at my preferred consistency, the consistency I use most often. You'll want to choose three light colors and two dark colors or vice versa. But either way, you'll want a mix of light and dark colors. This first color is the light blue from whole beam. I'll begin by painting in light colors, two different light colors into the second and fourth circles of my first row to see how darker colors layer on top of them. Already, you can see that the dark colors of my outlines that I printed off are showing through. This paint is not opaque enough to cover those lines. Often I find when I'm working with a light color paint, I want to leave white space beneath any areas where they'll need to shine. If I try and work with these light colors on top of darker colors, or on top of detailed lines, it's going to show through. This can be great if that is the effect you're going for, but if you're trying to get a flat, opaque colored shape, it's going to be very frustrating and you'll have to do multiple layers of paint in order to get the effect that you want. This is also one of the reasons that I love working with the Prismacolor, colorized pencils when I'm working with gouache, because the light color of those pencils doesn't show through my paintings in the same way that a harsh gray pencil line would. If you need to be painting over darker lines like this, I'd suggest working with one of the chalkier paints, something with a white pigment in it that's very opaque, or one of the ashy colors. For example, this pale lavender is one of my absolute favorite colors to work with. I use it in pretty much every painting. It is very chalky and opaque. Well it may not completely cover the lines, you can already see that it has a much better coverage than that light blue paint. When you're planning to layer your paint, it's especially important to make sure that you're smoothing out any areas of paint or water on your page, so that you have a smooth area to layer over. Otherwise, your paint could end up cracking. Now let's begin layering our darker areas of color. You'll want to make sure that your paint is fully dry before you begin layering on top of it. Because acrylic gouache does not reanimate with water. But if it's still wet, it is going to mix together. Next step, I'm going to grab my smalt blue, another one of my absolute favorite paints. This one is very opaque, as you'll see in a minute. It's a mid-range color, it's not really altogether that dark. But because of the pigments that make up this paint, it will cover almost anything. This is why it's so important to do small exercises like this to really understand the quality of your paints. Each tube is a little different. If I looked at these on the shelf, my ultramarine blue is going to look pretty similar to this smalt blue, especially because the colors on the tube aren't altogether that accurate. But the ultramarine blue, which you'll see in a few minutes, is very translucent, whereas this is a much different paint. Well, you can see the barest hint of my dark outline lines, the back of this painting, it is mostly opaque. You don't get a hint of that pale lavender underneath. Now, let's fill in the next two of our darker colors on this first row to see how they behave over the lighter colors of paint. Now I'll continue by filling in the exact same colors on my bottom row, except this time the dark colors will be behind the light colors. Now that all our circles are filled in, we can really see the qualities of these paints and how they layer. That first ultramarine blue is somehow opaque, but not super opaque. The middle prussian blue, one of my absolute favorites, is not very opaque at all. You can see straight through to the colors beneath, and then the smalt blue at the very end is quite opaque. In opposition, we can see that our bottom row, those light colors don't layer very well on top of the dark colors, you can see through almost every detail. You can also notice that when you put light colors on top of dark, it amplifies the feeling of your brush strokes. You're going to get a lot more sketchiness. If that's the effect you're going for, it can be incredible. But if you are not going for that effect, if you want flat areas of color you're going to either have to lay down multiple layers of paint or just plan out your painting so that you're putting those light colors down first and leaving the area beneath them white. Now that we understand how to layer our colors to get the effects we want, our next exercise will cover brush control for those times when you need to paint around a shape instead of over it. 15. Lesson Two: Brush Control: For this exercise, we'll be working with the exact same template as we were using for the last exercise. Feel free to trace it from my templates I provided or grab something circular from your desk. Again, this exercise will focus on brush control, that is, making sure your paint lands exactly where you want it. We'll be filling in these shapes, working around the corners and the curves. I recommend grabbing a mix of chalky paints and ones that are more translucent so you can see how they behave on your brush. I'm starting with this light magenta, and I'm using a size six brush with a pretty good point. That may be my best tip for getting lines where you want them aside from practice. Having a brush that's newer and has a crisp pointed tip is going to give you a lot more variation in line, and it's going to allow you to get right to the edge, especially when you're working with acrylic gouache because it does not reanimate with water. As your brushes get older, some of their gunk might get stuck in the metal bit on your brush. That means that it's not going to hold a perfect point anymore because there'll be tiny little spaces between your bristles that are going to make it less than ideal to work with. Not so bad if you're working with big areas of color, but truly frustrating if you're trying to get into a teeny tiny little corner. If your brushes are quite old or you don't have the high-quality brushes you wish because it's just not in your budget., one of the best tricks to try is just switching to a smaller brush when you need to get into smaller spaces, because the truth is, a smaller brush means smaller mistakes. The other thing to note here is that I'm working with my gouache at a one-to-one ratio. This is my favorite ratio. You can see the brush strokes. It's a bit watery, but it does give me a lot more control over my paint than I would have if I were working with a thicker. We discussed this in detail in our last lesson, but it's worth repeating. Having a little bit more water in your paint is going to give you more control over your lines. Now, I'm moving on to my next color. This is pale peach, one of my favorite colors to work with. I'm going to try to paint right up to the line I've just painted without overlapping. Because this is a much lighter color, you'll immediately see any squeegee mistakes I make. I'm also trying to follow the curve of this shape as well as I can. I mean, in general, I paint expressively. I like my lines to be a little bit fun and wonky and unpredictable, but there are limits to that. Sometimes you just need a shape to be exactly the shape you need it to be, and you need to have confidence that you can do that, so that you'll have fun in the process of painting, rather than worrying through the whole process of painting. If brush control is something that makes you a little bit nervous, feel free to break these circles down into even smaller shapes, filling in the areas between the circles with different colors. It is a great exercise just to practice and build confidence when you're not working on a painting that you're emotionally invested in. That's the magic of doing small exercises like these. At least for me, when I'm working on an actual painting, my perfectionism goes into high gear. I'm so worried about making something that's good, that sometimes I lose my drive to experiment. But by completing small exercises that have less pressure, I can build foundational skills that will serve me as I move into painting things I care about. It may also be worth noting that perfection is nonsense, guys; for real. There's no such thing. As you're working on these experiments, you may get frustrated that your lines don't exactly match up, or that there small gaps of light or slight bits of overlap. I'm here to tell you that that is the beauty of painting, those unpredictable lines, the places where you can see the artist's hand. As I said in the first lesson, you are not a camera. You're not here to accurately recreate the things that you see. You're here to interpret the things you see through your own eyes and through your own hand. Sometimes we can get really down on ourselves when our lines are shaky or unpredictable or we keep making the same mistakes over and over again. But the reality is, is that those mistakes that only you make over and over again are going to become the foundation for your personal style. When I first started painting, my personal style was to use a lot of colored pencils with my gouache, and a big part of that was because my brush control wasn't great and I couldn't get my areas of color to line up just the way I wanted to. I used colored pencils to mask the areas where there were gaps between my colors. Now, even though my brush control has improved a lot after years of painting, I still love reaching for colored pencils. It's part of my DNA now. You'll notice that with that deep magenta color I used as my third circle, it shows everything. This is another one of the paints that has a fluorescent pigment in it. That fluorescent pigment granulates. One of the things with a granulating pigment is that you see the brush strokes to the max and it can show off every little detail. If I'm doing something that's really complex or difficult, I'm more likely to grab for a chalky paint or a lighter color that's going to hide my mistakes a little bit more. I'm now working with pale lilac. What a lovely light color. You'll see that I accidentally stopped into my darker color a little bit, but that's okay. I can just go back over it. That's some of the beauty of working with acrylic gouache. There's so much flexibility because the paint does not reanimate to fix your mistakes. Going back in with a smaller brush if you need to. One thing to note though is that if you're going over very translucent paints with extra layers of color, you're going to lose some of that translucency. For me, I like to work with these translucent paints, generally with white under them, so you can see all the beautiful texture and brush strokes. But the more layers of color that you add, the less likely it is that you're going to be able to see all of that beautiful texture. Throughout this exercise, I'm trying to alternate dark and light areas of color, mostly to make it more difficult so that I can clearly see any areas where I've gone over what I intended to do. If you're having a hard time getting into a small area or you're having a hard time following the shape of the curve, sometimes it helps just to turn your page. I'm not doing that here because my page is taped down so that I won't move it out of the area where the camera can see it, but it can be hugely helpful. Our wrists only turn in so many directions. Sometimes it's really helpful to extend your range of motion just by turning the page. Small tricks like that can be so helpful for getting your lines where you want. I also suggest holding your paintbrush a lot more loosely than I do. I grip mine tight in my fist and that can make it really hard to control my brush because I don't have a lot of range of motion in my hand and wrist then. A looser grip will give you a lot more fluidity to your curves. As I finish up this first row, I'm just going to grab a few more colors and start on the second row. In the second row, I'm going to leave white spaces in between each circle instead of filling in those areas, to get me more corners and curves to work with. We're all finished. You'll notice that at one point, I did go in and correct some of my deep radiant green with some titanium white. That's one of the wonders of acrylic gouache. Because it's opaque, you can go in and cover over little mistakes. You'll notice that none of these circles are perfect. They're all a little bit wobbly and expressive, and that's okay. Your painting doesn't have to be perfect. Now that we've covered all the fundamentals of layering and brush control, let's move on to our second project, a still life floral arrangement. 16. Project Two: Sketching: For this project, I'll be working with a nine-inch square piece of watercolor paper. That's just because I really love working in a square format. I don't know why, but I find it super satisfying. Feel free to work with your paper at whatever size works best for you. I'm making a one-inch border around the edge of my page to create a crisp, clean outline and to make sure my work is centered. While I do that, I feel like I have a confession to make. Painting flowers stresses me out. I think it's the perfectionist in me. Something about all of those layers and ruffles and petals immediately gives me heart palpitations. If this is the case for you too, don't worry, we're going to push through it and make something great. The first part of creating a floral still life is getting your flowers and arranging them. You can arrange them as simply or as fancifully as you want. Grocery store flowers are fine, or you can treat yourself to something a little bit special. Full disclosure, I used grocery store flowers the first time that I shot this, and then I had to re-shoot it, so I treated myself to these fancy little buggers. My first step is to arrange the flowers. I like to keep it simple. I started with that big old hydrangea. I got it because it was super cheap and I knew it would fill out any empty spaces in my arrangement. Then I started in with my fancy little proteas. Afterwards, I just filled in the remaining spaces with those little chamomile flowers and the green wiggly bits that I couldn't leave at the store. When I used to sketch flowers, I used to do very precise, labor-intensive, and long sketches to get every detail just right. I realized after a while that by doing that I was setting myself up for failure. I love loose and expressive florals, but with that precise sketch, I was kind of trapped. So I've started creating less of a sketch and more of a map. My intention isn't to capture the personality of any of the flowers when I sketch them. I just want to have a good understanding of where each blossom is going to lie within my painting and where my focal point will be. Blocking up my painting in this way will help me see how the finished painting will look and helps me troubleshoot problems with my composition before I start painting. In this case, this composition is a bit unbalanced because of that big hydrangea. So I've taken one of the sad little leaves from my hydrangea, and I'm just going to put it on the other side of my painting. It's a bit wilted now, but that's okay. Overall, this sketch took me less than 10 minutes, mostly just to polish up the shape of my jug because I thought I wanted that to be pretty, crisp, and clear because frankly, I'm in love with that jug. You'll notice I didn't even sketch out the shape for my little chamomile flowers, I just put a bunch of middles. Now that we have a finished sketch, let's transfer our sketch to water color paper and get painting. 17. Project Two: Painting: I've got my sketch transferred and my paper taped down ready to paint. Now, I'm going to choose some colors. Sometimes I'll do this with swatches, and sometimes I'll do this by just grabbing some of my favorite tubes of paint. I'm just going through my tubes of gouache grabbing all the colors I think would work really well with the colors in my floral arrangement. So yellow for the middles of my chamomile flowers, some greens for my leaves, some bright pinks and softer pinks for my hydrangea and those crazy, little protea flowers. I'm sure you're absolutely aware of this, but in just in case you've forgotten, you don't have to use the colors that you see in your arrangement. Especially if you're using grocery store flowers, the colors you see may not be the colors you like to use, but that's okay. In that case, use colors you love, and use your real physical floral arrangement as a guide to where different values will lie within your painting. It will be an incredible guide to where your shadows hit, where different contrasting values are sitting, and how the different flowers play off of each other, even while you play with all the different colors that your heart desires. You also don't have to choose every color you're going to be using in your painting before you get started. But for me, I find it's really helpful to have a road map of the colors that I'm planning to reach for so that I have fewer choices to make while I'm painting. Because I'm such a perfectionist, I can get easily discouraged. If I leave too many decisions to make while I'm in the middle of painting, well, then I end up getting a little bit flustered and probably I'm not going to do my best work or I'm going to quit. So by taking care of these decisions before I open a tube a of paint, I'm setting myself up for a little bit more success. I am not a 100 percent sure about this decision, but I think I'm going to do my background in the pale line. I think it will compliment the cool colors in my proteas and it will create a nice backdrop for those wavy, wiggly, little, green things. That being said, it's also a really pale color. So if later I decided that I hate it, well, I can just paint over it. I'm not planning to mix any fancy paints colors for this painting. I'm planning to use all of my paint right out of the tube. That way I don't have to worry about anything else except focusing on layering and the opacity of my paint. Giving yourself limits like this is a great way to focus on the fundamentals. I start with my background, just like I do with every painting, with my paint diluted to 50 percent paint and 50 percent water. Now, you might be asking, with those loose, wiggly, green bits, Lana, how are you going to decide where to paint, you didn't even sketch them? The answer is, I'm just going to paint as close to those as possible because I love it when bits of white paper peek through and when you're going to see bits of the background around those really loose, gestural-looking pieces of foliage. Since my background is light, I don't have to worry about painting that foliage on top of it. It's going to show up just fine because I'll be using a darker green color. If you are using a darker background, you may want to consider that with any loose foliage you have because it might be harder to get crisp, clean, lines and a lighter color on top of a dark background. In those cases, I would just leave those areas blank. Paint around them. Then you can fill them in later in the lighter color that you want, a great chance to practice your brush control. I have gone quite deep into my arrangement with my background color. That's because I want to use white paint on top of that background to create my chamomile flowers. I'm hoping that the contrast between this pale lime and the white paint will be enough contrast to make those flowers pop. Now, if this were a fancy paint, it's client commission, I would probably have tested that out first. But, in this case, I'm willing to take a risk and experiment a little bit. Nothing is going to be hurt except maybe my ego if it doesn't work out. Now, I'm just going to fill in a few more areas and then start on the bottom half of my painting. I'm going to speed things up a bit so that we can get to the good stuff. I've chosen a pretty neutrally brown color for this, but I'm watering it down a little bit so that I get marked dimension in the color. Since my jug is white, I'm trying to be pretty careful around those edges so that I can paint into that area with the crisp white color later without having to do too much layering over this dark brown. This raw amber color is the first translucent color you've seen me used on a background. I absolutely love when I can see brushstrokes, different dimensions and textures in the work that I'm doing. But if that's not your cup of tea, you probably want to avoid using these translucent colors in big areas to color because, as you can see, you're going to get lighter areas and darker areas unlike you do with a more chalky paint. Or you could also add a little bit of white or another chalky color to this paint to make it more opaque. But, of course, that will shift the color. Now, I'm going to paint that jug. Because the flowers and all of the stuff in the base is going to overlap the jug, I thought it'd be a good idea to start with the jug first. That way, I don't have to be that precise about working my way around those leaves that overlap the jug. Since I'm painting the jog in this pale ivory color, pretty much anything I paint over top of it is going to show up just fine. As I start to paint this jug, I'm realizing that the pale ivory color I'm using to paint the jug is actually pretty similar to my background color. I'm not sure that that's what I'm going to want. I'm just going to keep an eye on this as I continue painting. Now, I'm going to go in with a mid-range green to start with those green foliage tendril bits that I couldn't stand to leave at the flower store. They are at the very back of this arrangement, so everything else will overlap them. That's why I'm painting them first so that everything else in the painting will overlap them. Here's also a pro tip that I pretty much perpetually forget myself. If you're right handed, start at the left side of your painting and work towards the right so that you aren't smooshing your hand through the details that you just painted. In the same way if you're left-handed, start at the opposite side, so you can move your way through and you don't have to worry about putting your hand on the page. You can also use a blow dryer at anytime to dry things off. In general, acrylic gouache dries very fast, especially if you're in a dry climate. But if you're hopping around your painting with tiny details, it's not going to be dry before you move around because you're literally going from one thing to another. In those cases, just plan out where you're going to paint before you start or have a blow dryer on hand to dry things off so you can keep making progress. I'm going to grab a bigger brush and just fill in these big expressive leaves. I know I'm going to add more detail to them later but for now, I just want them to be a base area of color. I like to spend the early part of my paintings just filling in every single area with color. I don't like to add too much detail too soon. Sometimes when we go in with detail right away on our paintings, it can distract us from the bigger compositional things going on in our painting. Is there enough contrast? How is your eye drawn to the scene? All of those things that will make your painting more successful. If I started with all of the teeny, tiny, little details right away and then I realized that I have a problem with composition, I'm going to feel a lot more uncomfortable painting over things than I otherwise would. Now, I'm going to go in and add tiny stems from my chamomile flowers. Just like with my green wiggly bits, those chamomile flowers are going to sit on top of their stems, so I need to add those first. Because I want to keep this painting very loose, I'm not paying too much attention to every tiny, little detail. I'm just gathering a few small parts and adding them to my painting, then checking in with a composition as I work. I'm trying not to overlap my hydrangea because it's not painted in yet and it's going to be over pop of most of these little stems. If I need to add more stems in later, that will be totally fine. Once all these stems are in place, I'll move on to painting my hydrangea. It is a big, roughly-shaped, but it is mostly solid. I'm going to just paint it in with a solid, pale color. I want to paint this before I paint my chamomile flowers because just like with the background, I'm hoping to layer the white chamomile flowers on top of parts of this flower. You'll notice that there's not a lot of contrast between this flower and my jug and my background, and that's okay because I'm going to go in and add more shading as I go through. Now, I'm starting to work on my chamomile flowers. I want to use my paint very thickly for this, because I'm looking to have it show up on this paler background so it needs to be completely opaque. I don't want to see any of the paper or the color beneath it through. I'm finding it a little bit hard to ensure that I'm getting that effect. So I'm actually just going to paint a swatch to test out the effects of my paint to be sure that I get the right effect for what I'm looking for. Make sure to dry your paint before layering other colors on top of it. For that, I actually finally grabbed my blow dryer because I'm impatient as heck. But you can't layer paint on top of wet paint. So it was just inevitable that I would grab this. This is one of my best tips for getting the effects you want in your paintings. Sometimes you reach a point where you want to try something, but you're really not sure if it'll work and you don't want to create layer upon layer upon layer of mistakes. In that case, I just grab a little piece of watercolor paper, it's actually the same paper that I use for my swatches, and then I'll test on there. In this case, I tested out my titanium white, but it's just not showing up. I actually have another white from the [inaudible] from Turner and I'm going to try that. It is a lot chunkier, so I have to swirl it a lot more, but it does seem to give the effects I want. Now I'm going to go in with this paint and a lot more confidence. Just like with the stems, I'm not being super literal with where I place these flowers. I'm trying to keep it loose and expressive and just follow what the composition of the painting demands instead of what my floral arrangement looks like. Once I've finished all of my little white petals, I'm going to go in again with some yellow middles. One thing I'm noticing now is that there might not be enough contrast between my white flowers and my background but that's okay. I can always go in later and add shading to create more contrast. Now for my yellow middles. I'm just using a mustard yellow for this part of the process because I think it will go so wonderfully with the middle of my flowers. Since I've been very expressive in the placement of my flowers, I can also be very expressive in the placement of these little center dots for my flowers. I'm using a small brush, but I could easily go in with a bigger brush if I wanted something even more funky and dynamic. I'm keeping a close eye on my arrangement for how closely to space these center dots and for where to place them. But that being said, I'm not worrying too much whether there's white behind them or exactly where they're laying on the page, because I can always go in again later once these have dried and add more petals to create a little bit more of a flower feel. The other thing to consider is that with a small flower like this with a defined round center, some of them are going to be facing forward so they'll be circles, but others are going to be on their side or flipped upside down, any which way. So it's great to add different shapes to give the feeling of a tangle of lovely, tiny flowers. I had an idea for how to add more depth and dimension to these flowers, so I'm just going to test it out again on my little scrap of paper. That way, I'm not doing anything that's hard to undo on my paper before I know that it will work. I didn't love the effect somehow. I'm just going to go in instead with a few more layers of white petals to make these little flowers pop. Once I'm finished adding this extra layer of white, I'll move on to my hydrangea again to begin adding more details to bring it to life and to differentiate it from the background. I'm using this red paint, very diluted, because I want to create very soft area of color and I'm hoping it'll granulate a little bit too. I'm also using an enormous brush. You'll notice that I'm using my paper towel to control the amount of water that's on my brush, as I work my way through this area. Now these hydrangea blossoms don't actually look like this in real life. But I'm having fun playing with different ways to make texture and I love it. Now, I think I'll move on to my very fancy protea blossoms. That will be the focal point of this painting. I'm going to start in with green, because they have lots of funky green in them, as well as the pink and reds, all sorts of other gorgeous tones. I'm again going to use a bigger brush to create big painterly marks, to create the shapes of these flowers. I'm not trying to get the exact, precise shape of the petals, I'm just trying to lay down color where I see color in my arrangement. I am going to go over these parts later with more precise line work and detail so I don't need to focus on that too much right now. I'm just looking to get the colors where they go. So the green shapes where they're. I'm looking for the close blossoms that have a bit of a different shape than the others, and I'm just flushing out where each thing will be. Since these flowers have a lot of layered pink and green color, I'm going to be alternating them as I paint, as I see them in the painting. Since red and green are complimentary colors, I'm making sure to dry my paint before I layer these colors on top of each other. Otherwise, they might end up a muddy mess. So long as both layers are dry, they'll create distinct colors on their own. But if they're still wet, they are going to smoosh together. As I go in with paint again, I sometimes test just to make sure I'm getting the right ratio of paint to water on my brush before I commit to going on paper. That being said, I'm working super loose here. As you look at this, you might be like, "Hey lady, this doesn't look like the arrangement at all." Frankly, as I'm painting, that's what I'm thinking too. But I'm just trusting; trusting my eyes, trusting my hand, trusting that if I keep just mimicking what I see, adding shadows where there are shadows, highlights, where there are highlights, eventually it will come together. I'm just going back over my hydrangea because I want it to have a little bit more depth. To be honest, as a future Elena watching this, I'm saying, "Pass Elena, stop. Please stop. It was probably just fine the way that it was," but that's okay. Sometimes you're going to overwork part of your painting and that's just inevitable. Especially when you're just getting started out or if you're like me, you might find it hard to just leave well enough alone, and to trust that those loose marks that you've made translate as the thing that you're trying to paint. So you might end up going in and adding a lot more detail than you need. That's certainly what I'm about to do here. I'm going in and adding more outlines in details to this hydrangea. But the problem is, is that the more detail I add, the more it draws focus. Well, that's not objectively bad. I don't want this hydrangea to be the centerpiece of this painting. It's just not where I want my viewers' eyes to go. So by adding this much detail, I'm actually not doing what I want with this painting. You might find that you reach this stage in your painting too, where you're just blindly groping around to get the effects you want. Frankly, I suggest taking a break or moving on to a different part of your painting and planning to come back to it later. That's what I'm doing. I've moved back to my protea flowers where I want to put most of my detail. That big, old protea flower in the middle is where I want the eye to go in my painting. I want to add a lot of luscious detail to that spot so that it captures the attention of my viewer. To do that, I'll be adding a lot of layers of paint, lighter and darker colors. But for now, I'm just going to wait for this to dry and move on to other areas of my painting. The middle part of a painting, it can be hard to decide what needs your attention next. But in the wise words of the lovely Dylan M, I always like to focus on whatever looks most wrong. For me, right now, that's these flowers. I just don't think that they have enough contrast between them and the background. So I'm coming in with a darker color to hopefully add more definition to the flowers so that you can see them and they'll have their own sparkling little personality. My plan isn't to have these dark green outlines visible, my plan is to go in over them again with white so that there's just a hint of shadow on the edges of the petals of these flowers. Once I have a few sporadic leaves around my painting painted, I'll move back to my protea flower. I like switching back and forth between areas of my painting as things are drying so that I can keep constant motion. In the same way, it helps me not be too precious about any single area that I'm working on. It's like taking a break for your eyes and focusing on one very detailed little thing. I just want to make sure my protea is absolutely dry before I go in to add more color on top so that the colors don't bleed together. This time, I'm coming in with a darker color to begin at shading. Then I'll continue to layer color upon color until it starts to resemble the flower that I see before me. I think it's nearly there. It definitely draws the eye with that big center flower. I'm just adding a few more white details to really bring it to life. Throughout this process, I've used a series of different colors, including wine red, that one's from whole bean, I've used the Japanesque reddish brown, I've used some of the pale lime that I used in the background, as well as a pale peach color. By layering these colors at different opacities of paint, I've created so many more colors than I could have if I was trying to mix each individual color from scratch. Now, I'm going to go in with a darker, deep green on my leaves in order to give them more contrast. Since I want this arrangement to be at loose and expressive, I'm not going in and adding a ton of detail to these leaves, especially because I don't want the leaves to be the focal point. But I am going to use some expressive linework in order to make them look a little bit more like they look in real life. Even though these hydrangea leaves have tons of small veins on their dark surface, I'm actually using a bit of a bigger brush so that I don't get too precious and caught up in the details. I'm also using my paint rather thick and dry. That way I can get dry brushing effects. Now, I'm going to continue to add layers of color and detail to finish off this painting. I'm just adding in a few final finishing details, some texture and some shading, and mucking around the colored pencil because I can't help myself. I did so well so far, but I just think these need a little bit more definition. You could absolutely do this in gouache, but I love scribbling with the pencil. Now, I think I'm calling this done. Overall, this piece took me about two hours, even though it's quite sped up on this video, so don't despair if you feel like your painting is taking a little bit longer than you had planned. Now, let's jump in to our next lesson on color. 18. Lesson Three: Intuitive Mixing: Hello, and welcome to our third and final lesson. In this lesson, we're going to focus on mixing color, first intuitively on the page and then by creating resources like a mixing charts so that you can confidently mix the colors that you want. Well, I've drawn out a little grid and this template is available in the Class Resources section. You can absolutely just do this loose and free styling on your paper. I just wanted to add a little structure for this video so that it's easy to follow along with what I'm doing. I've selected four colors for their specific properties so I can show you different qualities of the paint. But feel free to choose any number of colors, any colors you like to do this exercise. I'm going to start with this light blue. It's a chalkier color with a little bit of translucency. I'll begin by just putting a bit of this light blue along my side and labeling it so I remember what color I've been using. Then I'll begin by lightening the color with white and darkening the color with black. To be honest, I don't use a lot of black in my paintings so throughout this intuitive mixing exercise, I'm also going to try other dark colors to decrease the value of the colors that I'm working with. As we work our way through this process, we're not looking for one particular result. As I'm mixing colors, I'm not looking for just the right pale color. This is the technique we'll use later in our mixing chart as well. I'm just looking for a color shift. Is it different than the paint straight from the tube? What can that tell me about the type of pigments that I'm working with. Now we'll move on to darkening the color with black. One thing about using whites and blacks to darken and enlighten our colors is that, one thing that they do is they bring down the saturation of our color, especially when you're darkening with black, can be a great way to gray out your colors, but it can also leave your paintings feeling a little bit flat. The other thing to consider is that because black is so highly pigmented, you only need the teeny tiniest amount to get a color shift. I'm also going to try darkening this blue with my Prussian blue to see if it gives me a more dynamic color. This is a fun, messy experiments. I'm just going to include all the different splotches and experiments with each type of color on my page. I'm not going to worry about whether these colors go together because there's actually a certain magic that happens when you're mixing all from the same base color. It creates a cohesive palette even if you're mixing in a bunch of different colors. This can be an absolutely great way to make your paintings look like they go together. Now I'm going to begin mixing different primary colors with my blue to see how they behave. These are actually primary colors. I'm using a mustard and vermilion, which is a little bit off yellow and a little bit off red, and that's okay. You don't have to use pure primaries for this because you're just learning about the pigments in your paint. Just like with the white and blacks, I'm just adding different amounts that mustard color to this first box in order to see how my paint behaves. I'm going to continue that in the next box with my vermilion paint. This gives you a great idea of the types of greens and the types of purples that I can make with this blue that will look cohesive within my palate. It's also worth noting that colors like red and green are generally very highly pigmented. So you only need a little bit of them to create a color shift. In the opposite way, colors like yellow are often a lot more muted and you might need more of them to see a color shift as you work your way through these experiments. In these final two boxes, I'm going to mix my blue with its complimentary color, orange, to create a broken color or brown. Then I'm going to gray it out to see what tons of gray we can get from this blue. First, orange. I've picked a pretty plain orange here. But there are a few different factors that come into this, saturation of the paint, the opacity. I'm just going to keep adding increasing amounts of this tone to see the different types of brown's I can get. You'll notice that it starts off a little bit gray because there's actually some white in this light blue plane. But as I add more orange, it turns into a warmer blue, orange, brown, which can be great to create complimentary neutral tones within your paintings. In the same way, creating graze from the colors that you're using rather than using a neutral gray, can make your painting look more dynamic. To create gray all you have to do is add white and black to the color that you're using. You can continue to add white and black to bring down the saturation and also to get different values in your gray. Now I'll repeat the exact same process for each different color. I'm going to do four different colors. I'll lighten it, darken it, add primary colors, and then move on to the contrasting color and gray. A quick note, when you're working with secondary colors, that's green, purple, and orange, the primary colors we'll use are the one that is not its contrasting color. Now let's go. Good. There we go. All finished. I'll just remove my tape so that I can show you close up what has happened here. You'll notice, even from this faraway view, that some colors have a lot more translucency, you can see their brush strokes. You'll also notice that I switched out that orange for mustered, because I remembered that I wanted to show you something particular about yellow paint. That is, you can't really darken it with black, it ends up looking like a muddy mess because most blacks are blue based so they end up turning your dark yellow paint green. You've got to use a dark brown for that. The other thing I wanted to draw particular attention to is that, with most colors, when you add any secondary pigment, you're going to get a less saturated color. That's often why it's better to use primary and secondary colors straight from the tube, true grains instead of mixed greens. But when you're working with something like this, red violet with a fluorescent pigment, that's when your colors may actually get brighter when you add them together, because that fluorescent pigment does crazy things when you mix it together with other colors. It's one of my favorite qualities to play around with us and painting. But it is important to remember that these fluorescent pigments are not light fast, they will fade and they'll fade fast. The other thing I wanted to draw particular attention to is the way in which opaque colors and translucent colors interact when you're mixing them. When you mix an opaque color with another opaque color, obviously it's still opaque. But when you mix an opaque color with something translucent, it's going to give you brush strokes and granulation and a lot more texture than you would otherwise have had. Exercises like this are also a great way to uncover the undertones in your paint and to just find mixes that you really love. You'll see that when we mix the light blue and the mustard, we got some pretty beautiful blue greens and warm greens. But when we mix the blue with that ultramarine paint, it ended up looking pretty gross. I'm sure there's a situation in which that paint would be gorgeous. But on it's own, it's a pretty buffy color. Now that we've played around with mixing on the page and intuitively mixing colors, let's move on to painting in mixing chart, a wonderful resource that we can use for years to come to get the exact color as we want as we paint. 19. Lesson Three: Colour Mixing Chart: A color mixing chart makes a wonderful weekend project or if you're like me, absurd, month long endeavor to finish a mixing chart that is larger than it ever needed to be. I learned my method for making mixing charts from the lovely Dylan M. It's simple and it really will break open your relationship with color to give you confidence that you're mixing the colors you want. This process is very simple. We just start by selecting the colors we want to use. When I made my first mixing chart, I actually used every single tube of Gouache that I owned, and I have a lot of tubes of Gouache. You don't need to make a mixing chart with 60 different colors of Gouache to get a thorough understanding of your paint. Here, I'll be using just 15 colors, and I'll begin by writing the names of each color along the left-hand side of my page. While you absolutely do not have to do these in any color order, it can help you recognize subtle shifts and changes in the colors. So I always try to follow the rainbow. ROYGBIV. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Then I'll do my blacks and whites at the very end. Sometimes I include my brown next to my yellow, but this time I wanted a clear rainbow. So I put my brown at the end, next to black. As soon as I finish this, I'll begin on my first row. Wine red. The purpose of the mixing chart is to see subtle variations in color you can get when mixing two different paints together. I find it especially helpful in working with acrylic Gouache because unlike watercolor, it doesn't reanimate so I can just muck around adding color until I get the tone I want. I want to be pretty certain of the color so that I don't mix together a ton of paint and create a waste. I start by filling in just that plain unmixed wine red alongside and along the top. Now, I'm just going to do the same with my next color, pure red. I'll do this for each color at the start of each row and column so that I know what the unmixed color looks like. Now, we'll start mixing. I'm just mixing a small amount of my wine red with that pure red in order to get a color shift. We'll leave an empty space where wine red intersects with wine red and fill in our mixed color in the first row, but beneath that pure red square, because this color is a mixture of wine red and pure red. Then, we'll add more of the pure red paint for another subtle color shift and fill that in in the row next to our pure red. In general, for this first row, I'm looking to make sure that all of my colors along the top have a wine red as the dominant color and then all my colors that are proceeding down the length of the page, I want to make sure that secondary color is the dominant color. That will give me a wonderful idea of all of the different tones that I can get out of these two tubes of paint. You may find it a little tricky to get a color shift between two colors as similar as these red tones but that's okay. You'll see the difference as you work your way through the chart. Now, I'll move on to the next color, shell pink, and do the exact same thing. I fill in the unmixed color in the first row and first column and then I proceed to mix it with my wine red. Just as we learned in our intuitive mixing exercise, some colors have a lot more pigmentation than others. In those cases, you just want to make sure you're only adding a small amount of the highly pigmented color. That way you can control the color shift. It can be easy as you're making a color mixing chart to get in your head a little bit and to think that maybe I'm not doing this quite right. Maybe these colors shifts aren't exact. Maybe it's a little bit too close to the dark end of the spectrum or to the light end of the spectrum. But just trust yourself and trust the process because as you're staring at a page, especially if you have a lot of similarly tone colors, it can feel like you're not doing anything at all. But the reality is, is that when you take a step back, you're going to find so many marvelous colors in there. Now that we've gotten started, we're going to continue doing the exact same thing with each additional row. And that's all there is to it. Making a color chart can be a wonderfully meditative process that helps you learn about color. Even from just a casual glance, you can see the way in which chalky colors, and translucent colors, and those pesky granulating colors really change the paints that they're mixed with. Now that we have a thorough understanding of color, let's move on to our third and final project, a still life bowl of fruit. 20. Project Three: Sketching: Hello, and welcome to our final project. We've made it. Just like in the last projects, I'm working with a nine-inch square piece of watercolor paper and I'm creating a one-inch border around the edge. These are just my preferences, but I do find creating that border around the edge does make your painting look a little bit more polished. For this very final project, we're going to be focusing on the simple forms of a bowl of fruit. That's because I want you to have all of the time in the world to focus on colors, mixing on the page, playing, using that mixing chart you made, and I wanted to have something simple to play with. Fruit are perfect for that because not only are they simple, but they have a ton of texture and wonderful variations in color. I'll be painting apples because frankly, apples are the fruit I have on hand most often and they also have marvelous colors. The only trick to sketching fruit is making sure you have a good composition in the bowl. You want something where there are different shapes and layers. That's why I've shifted my bowl like this so you could see the apples that are behind, and you get great highlights on the front. Even though my apples are sitting in this very fancy scallop plate bowl situation, I'm just going to focus on drawing what I see. If it comes out a little wonky, all the better. That will give it so much more personality. Just like in the previous project videos, I sketched in Procreate for this because that's where I'm most comfortable. Sketch wherever you'd like, whether that's on watercolor paper, in a digital program, or in your sketch book. Doesn't matter, they're all equally valid. As soon as you have your finished sketch, we'll move on to painting. 21. Project Three: Painting: Now, we want the painting. I have my sketch transferred to water color paper and I'm just taping down the edges of my page so I can get a crisp, clean edge. Then I'll grab my mixing chart so I can start deciding on colors. Now, my mixing chart is stupidly large. You'll immediately see why it's a much better idea to make a smaller chart that just has colors you love, but that's okay. As I find a color that I think would be perfect for my painting, I grab out the two paints that I need to mix it. That way I have everything available before me, before I get going. It may be worth noting that just because I'm mixing some custom colors based on my mixing chart, doesn't mean that every single color in my painting has to be some beautiful custom mix. I'll be using just a plain beige for the background because I think it will set off the bright red of the apples and the green of my little scout plate perfectly. I'll also be intuitively mixing a color or two here and there as I go based on what I see that I need. You'll notice at the side of my painting that I have a little piece of watercolor paper. I'm going to use that as I'm painting. Just mark down the mixes that I've been using so that I know what colors are in there if I need to remake something. I'm also just filling in the background first as I always do. It's a light color, so it'll be easy to paint over if I get into that area of my plate or my apples a little bit, but I am trying to be a little bit careful around the outline. As always, you'll notice that my paint has a little bit of translucency in it, because that's what I love. I love being able to see the brush strokes, especially in a background, I find it makes it look so much more dynamic. But if you're looking for a bolder, more graphic pop to your painting, you might want to use paint that's a bit more opaque. Now, I'll start mixing a few colors. I don't know why, but I started mixing the color for my plate first. Maybe I just wanted to know what the color would look like so I could be sure I had enough contrast between that and the background. That certainly sounds like a good reason, so I'll go with that. But as soon as I have a color I like, I put it onto my little card and I label the colors that have used to mix it, in this case, cobalt and yellow ocher, so that later, if I need to make that color again, I have all the information. Now, I'm going to work on figuring out the color that I want to use for my table. In this case, I want to make sure it has enough contrast between the green that I'm going to be using for the plate and the base that I've used for the background. I also love when parts of my background have some translucency so that you can really see the brush strokes come through. I mix until I find translucency to the paint that works for me. In this case, it's a burnt, umber color with just the slightest bit of pink in it. I fill in the whole area, making sure there's lots of luscious brushstrokes. Because this color is darker, I'm trying to be a little bit more precise near the edges of my plate to make sure that I don't have too much dark paint to paint over later. Now, I'll just make sure I write down this color mix as well so that I have it later if I need to correct the edges on anything. Just upper umber and shell pink. Now, I'll move on to mixing the colors for my apples. I'm going to be using three different tones because these apples actually have a ton of different colors in them. Going to be doing some mixing on the page as well and dry brushing effects to get the apples looking like I see them in real life. Because of that, I'm leaving my paint a bit thicker than I would normally use it so that I can get opaque layers of color. All of these mixes I'm making also have a chalky paint in them so I can trust that they are going to be opaque and not end up showing too many brushstrokes. Although I often mix my colors one at a time as I need them, because I know I'm going to be layering several different colors for these apples, I'm mixing them all at first, so I'll have them all to layer one on top of the other. Because they're in the wells of my ceramic palette, they shouldn't dry out too quickly. But if you're in a very dry climate, you might want to just mix one color at a time. Both of these colors are based with Naples yellow and that same Naples yellow is going to be the base color I use to start off my apples, because there are a lot of yellow undertones on these fancy fruits. When I first started painting, one of the problems I had with mixing colors was that I had this mistaken impression that every part of what I paint had to be some perfectly mixed color. But the reality is, is that while you're painting, as you're building up layers of color, you're creating colors that you couldn't possibly mix yourself. They have so many more variations in tone than you could possibly make. That's why I'm starting off with this under-painting of the Naples yellow. This yellow paint is going to show through all of the layers that I paint on top of it. If you're working with different varieties of the same fruit or different fruits entirely in your fruit bowl, then you'll want to just pay attention to the undertones of the fruit that you're painting. If you've got purple grapes, they could have a bluer undertone or a red undertone. If you're working with orange, it could be yellow or red. If you're working with strawberries, they could have a green undertone. Maybe they're a little bit under ripe, or a yellow undertone, or a bright red. There are so many options and nothing is wrong. If you are looking at your fruit and that's the color you see, then go for it. This is your friendly reminder that you are interpreting what you see through your eyes and your eyes alone. So if you see blue undertones, or red undertones, or green undertones, or you want to take some artistic license, all of those are very valid options and will help make your still-life painting more than just a re-creation of a bowl of fruit. For my apple in the front, I'm actually using red as the undertone, just to add some variety and help this apple stand out from the ones behind it. As I'm painting, I'm noticing that the stem area of this apple has some pale green brightness happening there. So I'm just going to grab that paint to have it at the ready because I'm going to try some dry brushing effects to bring that area to life. I'm just filling in the areas that I think will be this darker red and then I'll go in to dry brush. It may be worth noting that this dry brushing will just be a very first layer of color. I'm likely going to go in with more darker tones later on to really bring it to life. As I'm dry brushing, I'm going to use a mixture of that pale lime I squeezed out right from the tube and my mixed red paint, that way it will blend out toward the edge of my apple. You'll notice as I dry brush, I wipe my brush on my paper towel a lot and that really is just to take off the paint so I can get a looser, brushier effect. I'll work on this area for a while, getting just the right balance of colors that I want because I'm not in a rush. Doesn't matter if it takes me five layers of paint or 10 layers of paint to get where I want. Just going to keep looking to my apples and then looking back to my painting to get the shapes and colors just where I want them. Now that I have a first layer down there, I'm just going to polish up the shape of my apple a little bit more and then move on to painting my plate. I really do love to have a base area of color on most areas of my painting before I start to add too much texture and detail. Now that I can see all the warm tones of this painting and how they're developing, I'm realizing that that green I mixed is going to need a little bit more yellow. So I've added a little bit more yellow ocher in order to make the green closer to what I see and a color that will work harmoniously with the rest of my painting. I'm leaving a gap along the bottom of this plate because the pottery that I'm painting actually doesn't have the glaze go all the way down. I'm just trying to focus on making sure I get that accurately. That little band of the paler color is also going to provide some much needed contrast to really draw your eye to the center of this painting. Also, if you're working with a lot of thick paint or you get any paint into the metal bit on your brush, just want to make sure you wash that out otherwise it will make it so that you lose the crisp clean point on your brush. As always, when I move to doing more detailed work, like the scalloped edges of my fruit bowl, I switch to a smaller brush. This is a size zero brush, I believe. It just gives me a lot more control over the lines that I'm making. Especially because the scalloped edge of this bowl is really a focal point. I'm filling in the unglazed edge of the ball with an ivory white to give it a little differentiation from my background. Then I'll continue filling in the rest of my bowl, because these are the edges and using a slightly wider your paint. I'm trying to get a lot of brush strokes. I'm also sticking with my teeny tiny brush, which will give me a lot more detail even in this flat area of color. You notice I'm leaving a little bit of space around my apples. That's because there's really a shadow in there, where my bowl and my apples meat. I'm going to mix the darker color in order to represent that shadow. Anytime I'm mixing color, I keep a scrap of paper just to the side of where I'm working. Here, it's actually just the edge of the page I cut off to make the square. I used that just to test the color and hold it near my painting before I commit to putting it on my painting. Even though you can easily paint over areas of color with gouache, I like to use my paint in a more translucent way. Often I don't want to have to layer color in order to cover up a mistake I made with color. By By my colors first, it just means I don't have to worry about committing to putting that color on the page. As soon as we finish filling in this fruit bowl plate situation, then I'll move on to adding detail to my apples. This is where things got really fun, if I'm being honest, I absolutely loved layering color to make these apples comes to life. Now, that I'm going to start working with reds and yellows instead of the green that I'm working with, I am going to flip my paper towel around. Acrylic gouache doesn't reanimate with water, but if there's any bits of pain on there that are still wet, I don't want them to make my colors muddy. You can absolutely reuse a paper towel like this for a very long time with acrylic gouache, because it doesn't reanimate with water. It's not going to bleed into your colors so long as that paint has already dried. Now, I'm going to come in with dry brushing, which you're going to notice, I'm going to use that paper towel a lot. This is my darker red color and I'm just starting at the edges of my apple, where there's the most shadow. That way, when my brush has the most paint on it, it is in the darkest areas. I don't want to come in, in the bright highlighted areas with a ton of paint on my brush, because it's going to create dark areas. That being said when your try brushing, it can be wonderfully unpredictable. When you're trying to get paint in a certain area, those bristles are just going to not give you any paint. When you're trying to get bright light areas, they might just come in with a big smush of color. But that is part of the magic here. You can already see even with this first layer of dry brushing, that I'm getting a lot of different tones, just from this red and yellow that I could not have mixed myself. So many different variations. Because you have so little paint on your brush, it can take up a while to build up layers of color. If this is the technique you're going to use, don't be in too much of a rush, because the second you're in a rush, you're going to get a big blob of paint, and it's going to really frustrate you. Just got to trust that there is enough pigment on those bristles to make an impact if you just keep working at it. This is just my first layer of color here. I'm using the same color that you see on my front, red apple. After I build up enough layers of color in this lighter red, I'll move to the deeper, richer reds so that we can bring this apple to life. Just like with all my painting, I'm starting as light as possible. You'll notice that right now I'm doing a lot of really light layers. They almost look like colored pencil really. That's what I'm going for. I want to create really subtle layers of color to just define where my shadows are, and where my highlights are in a way that isn't uncorrectable. I mean, I can always lay a color on top. But if I'm building all of these beautiful dry brush effects into it, I don't want to have to just put a big blob of paint on top of it later. So, I'm working slowly and building up layer upon layer of color. As I work with these dry brush layers, I'm also going to layer in some of my Naples yellow paint, that original base color that I painted my apples. Because that paint is made of multiple pigments right from the tube, sometimes you'll find it separates. But just stare back together and it's good as new, so long as it hasn't dried out yet. The one thing I'm finding though, is that this paint doesn't have the opacity I need for this stage of my painting. I can't really get the dry brushing effects I want, or the opaque color because there's just too much water in it. I'm going to squeeze out a little bit more of my Naples yellow paint, and just use it straight from the tube or with a very small amount of water. That will give me a little bit more flexibility for the effects that I want. I'm going to use this more opaque Naples yellow to create highlights and texture on that darker red apple, and to fill in areas on my other lighter apples in the background as well. Once I have all the midtone and highlight colors done on my apple, I'll move on to a darker tone to begin adding shadows. I've just been going in and adding some shadows and highlights to my fruit bowl play, whatever this thing is as well. Just smudging with my fingers to keep things soft because that's what I do, and really trying to focus on where the areas of color are and where the shadows are. I know the edge of my fruit ball is wonky, especially bad left-hand side. But that is okay. When van Gogh was painting his still lifes, he wasn't looking to recreate life. He was just expressing himself and enjoying the process of putting paint on paper. No one else is going to see the still life setup that you have in front of you. They are just going to see your finished painting. So if your dish looks a little bit different than it does in real life, or you've added extra fruit or rearrange things a little bit, that is all right. No one's comparing. If there is a part that really bothers you that you think, "I really should have observed more closely, I could've done better." That really is the magic of still life, especially when you're painting something like fruit, unless they're bananas, they're not going to go off right away, they're going to stay looking exactly the way they do right right. You can paint them day after day after day and learn new things and explore and experiment. Learning about gouache and about the subject that you have before you. Now, I'm nearly done with this painting. I'm just fussing, fidgeting, adding little bits of highlight and little bits of shadow here and there. Sometimes you may think that your painting is not working, and then you add just one small line or a little bit of highlights to bring it to the foreground and suddenly it pops. This can be a great time to look at your subject again really closely, or just to focus on the world you've created inside of your painting. Are there shadows where there should be shadows? What I've noticed is that I actually did need a bunch more shadow on the bottom, especially of those apples that are in the background, behind that prominent flashy apple in the front. I'm using a dry brushing effect, just like I did before to make sure that my shadow remain soft, isn't too harsh. But I could also use watered-down brush for this. All depends on the effect that you're going for. Those shadows really do ground those apples on this plate. I'm also adding a little bit more dark pigment to my front apple as well. Then I'll work on adding a slight shadow to the table underneath my fruit bowl. This will ground the fruit bowl on the surface on which it sits. Because my background is actually really brushstroke. I'm just using the exact same paint to create my shadow, not anything darker. Because creating an extra layer of this translucent paint will already make it darker, especially because I'm not looking for a super harsh shadow. Once I have finished my shadow, I'm done, or at least I think I'm done. There's a chance I'll go back later and add more tiny details. Who knows? But for now, I'm calling it finished. With that, we finish our very first adventure with acrylic gouache. Getting started, we've learned how to get the right opacity of our paint to create areas of color and lines. We've learned about layering our paint and brush control to get our paint exactly where we want it, and to look exactly how we want it. Then we explored color, mixing it on the page intuitively and creating resources like a mixing chart so that we can get exactly the color that we're looking for. I just have a few final messages before we go our separate ways. 22. Questions: Now that we've covered all the basics of working with acrylic gouache, I wanted to create an open call for questions. I know you have them and I want them. Acrylic gouache is a brand new exciting medium, and there are so many things to learn about it. I've done my absolute best to include all the things I think you may want to know but I'm sure I haven't covered everything. If you have any questions, let me know in the discussion panel, over on Instagram, or you can e-mail me directly at [email protected] I'll do my absolute best to answer your questions. If I think the responses are helpful, I'll post the questions and answers in a new class video. So send in those questions. 23. Thank You!: Thank you so much for taking my class. I'm so grateful that you're here exploring the wonderful world of acrylic gouache with me. If you are posting your work to social media, tag me @ Alanna Cartier Illustration or use the hashtag Alanna teaches. If you want to keep up with my illustration journey or hang out and chat about art, you can find me on Instagram at Alanna Cartier Illustration. If you just want to know what's new with me, you can also sign up for my newsletter at alannacartier.com. I would also be so grateful if you could leave a review for this class. I read every single one of them, and they make my day and make me a stronger teacher who's better able to bring you the classes you want. Thank you again so much. You're absolutely the best. I cannot wait to see the beautiful things you create.