Painting Teacups in Gouache: Exploring Shape, Colour and Pattern | Alanna Cartier | Skillshare

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Painting Teacups in Gouache: Exploring Shape, Colour and Pattern

teacher avatar Alanna Cartier, Artist, illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

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    • 9.



    • 10.

      Thank You


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About This Class

In this class, you will learn to paint colourful teacups in Gouache. Although gouache is similar to watercolor, it dries opaque, with bold graphic style. This class is suitable for all skill levels.

Teacups offer a simple canvas to try a new medium like gouache and explore the principles of colour, shape, and pattern. In this class, I will take you through my process, including finding reference photos (and interpreting them to make them my own), using colour to tie my collections together, and simplifying complex patterns. Together we'll explore how I use gouache to create flat blocks of colour, dry brushing effects, and fabulous texture. You can use this process with any collection of items. I can't wait to see what you'll create with teacups (and beyond!).

Your final project may include: 

Moodboard or inspiration photos
Finished paintings
Notes on your process and what inspired you!

Meet Your Teacher

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Alanna Cartier

Artist, illustrator


I'm Alanna, artist and illustrator, collector of cookbooks, mother to one fat cat, and newly confident sewer. I spend a fair amount of time scrubbing gouache off of my upper arms, even though I have absolutely no idea how it got there. I believe that talent is a myth that stops us from pursuing the creative endeavours we are passionate about. I believe practice makes progress, and that perfection is imaginary (and boring to boot!). I am a big nerd for learning, which means that Skillshare is my home away from home. 

If you want to follow along with my creative journey, subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on Instagram. If you post any projects from my classes please tag me, or use the hashtag #AlannaTeaches. It would just make my day!... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Welcome to Painting Teacups in Gouache, exploring shape, color, and pattern. I'm Alanna, and I'm an artist and illustrator living in Toronto, Canada. In this class, I'm going to show you my process for painting teacups in gouache. Including how I find inspiration, breakdown items to create a sketch, plan colors, and use gouache to create flat blocks of color, dry chalky lines, and softer washes. Let's get started. 2. Project: In this class, you'll be creating a painting squash, then you can hang at home or transfer it an art print, greeting card or pattern. 3. Materials: In this section, I showed the materials I use to paint teacups in gouache. I use a combination of calming and crown gouache, and turner acrylic gouache. Calming gouache is very silky and so vibrant. The turner has a more chalky texture, which is great if you want put pencil crown lines on top. Both of these gouaches are acrylic-based, which means they're not reactivated with water, so you can layer over top of them. However, they dry super quickly. So, if you are slipping there, you may want to get a stay wet palette so that you won't waste paint. When painting with gouache, I use watercolor paper. Most artists recommend that a hot-pressed paper so that you don't have to do extra work to get rid of the texture of the paper when you're digitizing. But I love compress paper. So, that's what I use. I'm currently using Fabriano studio watercolor. It's 140 grand, 300 GSM cold-pressed paper. But I also use a lot of the Fluid brand watercolor blot locks. If you are looking to make a small quick painting, I love the four by six postcard size papers. For sketching, I love the Prisma color colorized pencils. They come in a variety of colors. They don't much like graph light, and their soft lines, you can add to your paintings unlike a harsh grade pencil line. A non-formal blue and the palm beach are my favorites. But I'll be sketching with the other colors in this class, so that it shows up on though. I like to use a Escoola team brushes for all of my painting. There are a little bit pricy side, but worth it. For my teacups, I use a size six brush for bigger areas because I like having a lot of brush strokes. The size two brush, the smaller erase the color and size zero brush for details. I also like master brush cleaner to keep all my brushes tip top shape. Especially when you are painting with acrylic brush, it's important to rinse your brushes frequently so that the paint doesn't dry on your brush. Otherwise, it will lose its point. Other supplies that I love, They are these pets. I got mine and a name was on, but they are available every year supplies [inaudible]. They're fantastic for adding precise amounts of water to brush and I use them recursively. I also love Hamachi eraser pens, they are fantastic and great when I wear out the pencil erasers that I have. So, only $1.15. I also like tab a nice ruler. Mine is just a long cleaner 30 centimeter or 12 inch. I use it to border the edges of my pages because I don't like to have a really precise line like you would get with masking teapot, masking food. I like to just draw a pencil line, and then paint up to it so that it's a little bit more organic. I also love to use hard paper. It's really wonderful and saves me time from having to constantly scrub down my palette. I like to cut the big sheets that it comes in and have so it'll fit my [inaudible] and when I fill it up just toss them. I also use [inaudible] I use that to dry the brush after I've cleaned it or to dump brush on to control the amount of paint on my brush. I reuse a piece of paper towel for weeks at a time. So, don't need a fresh in every time you paint. I also use mix jars. For water, I have two. When that one gets disgusting, I can swap to the other one. Finally, a blow drier. I love having a blow drier to keep it on hooked by the desk. Mine is a little bit the cheap one I could find on Amazon. It will help speed up the drying process so that you don't end up smudging your painting like I do all the time. Now that you know what I use to create my paintings and gouache, let's move on to how it's done. 4. Inspiration: In this section, I'll go through how I find inspiration and reference images from my teacups. The Internet is a treasure trove of inspirational photos, but it's important to only use the things that you find as a starting point for your finish project, you never want to copy another person's work, even if it's in a different medium. I find the best way to ensure that I'm not copying is to draw inspiration from as many sources as possible, and then I narrow it down based on my image of what I want to create. If I'm planning to paint four teacups, I'll grab 10-12 inspiration photos and combine the shapes, colors, and patterns to create something very uniquely mine. When I'm searching for reference photos, my first app is usually Pinterest, but Google and XC can also be fantastic resources. If you are using Pinterest, you can organize your reference photos on boards and in sections within each board, I like to keep everything organized that way. That being said, I like to print my reference photos as well, and that way you don't have to rely on my iPad's battery in order to paint, and I also don't spotter my iPad with paint because I'm a messy person. I save images of teacups for three reasons, first, the shape of the handle, second the shape of the cup, and thirdly for the patterns on the caps themselves. I don't tend to use reference photos for color combinations, but this may be something you might want to consider. 5. Sketching: In this section, I'll go over how I sketch my tea cups. You'll notice first off, that I've already printed off my reference photos. I'm going to combine this cool stretched handle with this scalloped edge on that mug. Watercolor paper is a bit fussy and doesn't like too much erasing, so if you like to keep things very tidy, you'll want to sketch this out in a sketch book and then transfer it to watercolor paper using a light box, or a sunny window. I normally draw right on the paper, especially because I don't mind seeing bits of the Col-Erase pencil, through my painting. I start with the top oval of my teacup. The height of the oval will determine the angle of your teacup. If you want a more top-down view, you'll want something more circular. If you want the cup to be at eye level, you will use a very short fat oval or just a straight line. I want something in the middle so I can play around with designs on the inside of my teacup. I tend to fuss the most with this part erasing it and making it as narrow as needed, but it doesn't need to be perfect. I start with an oval, even when the edges are scalloped, since it's easier to add that fine detail later. We're just looking for a basic shape right now. I start with that top oval, then fill in the sides, the bottom and the handle, all very loosely. I work with the negative space rather than the shape of the cup itself. Now I start working on the bottom of the cup. This is one area where you can really play around with the personality of your teacup. I've decided to go with something pretty simple. Now I'm going to start working on the handle. This is where the negative space trick comes in the most helpful. Handle shapes can be really complicated and sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the details of how the porcelain reflects light. But what you really need to focus on is that negative space inside and outside the handle. I often go over this part two or three times. But again, remember, it doesn't need to be perfect. If it's a little wonky, it actually adds a ton of personality to your finished painting. We're going to slow things down again for a little bit as I start to work on the scalloped edge of the cup. This part isn't too hard. It just requires paying attention to some of the decisions you made earlier. Because I chose a middle range for my oval, I'm going to have to direct the scallop up from the very outer edge of the teacup and up again from that inner edge of the rim. If you made your oval very wide almost more circular, you're going to want to have all of the edges of the rim opening outward more like a flower. So that the very top edge would be opening outward and then the closer edge of the rim would be opening toward you. It's only once I finished the rest of the teacup that I started on the saucer. I want to make sure it matches everything else in scale. When you're drawing the saucer, you want to make sure that the angle of the face of the saucer, matches the angle you've used for that first oval at the top of your teacup. If the oval at the top of your tea cup is very tall and your saucer is very narrow it's going to make the perspective look off just like that first oval you did at the beginning of sketch. I always leave this one as just a plain oval while I'm sketching and add any details later, like scalloping. Once I have the basic shape worked out, I go back over everything, cleaning up my lines and adding in details to the handle and the rim. Once I finish the sketch, I'm ready to move onto the painting. But first, I need to decide on my colors. 6. Colour: In this section, I'll show you how I choose the colors for my teacup paintings and collections. The first thing I do when I buy an intuitive wash is to paint a swatch of the color and label it with the color of the paint. I keep a stack of two inch by three inch rectangles of watercolor paper on my desk, just for this purpose. This way, when I start planning a painting, I can fan throw the colors to see which colors I think would work best for this project. The colors on the tube are rarely accurate. This gives me a much clearer sense of how my finished painting will turned out. It's worth mentioning that I don't do a lot of color mixing. I paint slowly and using the colors straight from the tubes is one of the ways I avoid wasting paint. I use three colors for most of my teacups, and I like to repeat colors across collections to pull the paintings together. I paint one teacup first selecting just three colors, and then build outwards, as I complete paintings. I prefer warm colors, especially reds, yellows, yellow greens. If I use cool colors, I do so sparingly and always accompanied by something warm. This time I've chosen light magenta, wine red, and Naples yellow. I aim for two very cohesive colors. Something light and something dark. In this case, the light magenta and the wine red. Then I also add another contrasting color, but something that's not to Jerry and his case, that'll be the Naples yellow. I only use the darkest colors for details because I find using them for the background makes the painting feel a lot heavier and that's not my style. If I'm still having a hard time visualizing how my finished painting might look. I tend to paint thumbnails in my sketchbook. Just kind of a small circle starts squares to get an idea of how the colors will work together in the finished painting. In this case, I'm feeling pretty confident. Let's get painting. 7. Painting: In this section, I'll show you all of my tricks for working with wash. The first trick is finding the right balance of paint and water. This is where my handy puppets come in. I like to use equal parts of paint and water. Some people further work with less water, but I really like this ratio as it leaves my paint spreadable and mostly opaque for most colors. I start with a pea- size amount of my teacup color and add a small drop of water. I may have to mix more paint later. But mixing in small amounts means less waste. I mix the paint together with my cake paintbrush, looking for the paint to be the consistency of heavy cream. This tend to leave my mid range colors, very opaque, darker colors and pastels tend to maintain some translucency. If this isn't your cup of tea, then you might want a ratio of more paint to water or to consider painting a second layer of some colors. I start each teacup by laying down a layer of paint, working from the center and pushing the paint toward the edges. So I have more control. If I start painting at the edge and I have too much paint on my brush, it can make my lines very unpredictable. I want the coated paint to be light, which means I try to spread any liquid that pools on the page so everything dries evenly. One advantage of working with acrylic wash is that it doesn't reactivate with water. If your lines go a little out-of-control, you could always tidy them later by painting over them. If your first coat isn't as opaque as you'd like, then wait till it's dry and paint another coat on top. I like to leave some empty white space inside the opening of the teacup and on the face of my saucer. I find that this makes my painting much less heavy. My next step is to use the dark color I've chosen to outline my saucer. I do this before I paint the background and that way, if the background comes up close to it, I can tidy the lines later. But I don't like to do the outlines on the rest of my mug. The dry chalky lines I'll use later. Look great over the background. So I like to do them last. Once I've finished outlining my saucer, then I'll begin painting the background. I like the edges of my background to be pretty organic in their shape. So I just paint right up to that pencil line that I sketched earlier. But if you wanted something a lot more clean, you might want to use masking tape or masking fluid in order to get a really crisp, clean line at the end of your painting. I use a size six brush to paint my background because it's large enough to finish before my paint dries out, but small enough, that it gives me lots of brushstroke texture depending on the consistency of the paint. If you want your paint to appear smoother, a larger brush may suit you better. If you find afterward that you have more texture than you'd like you can also go over with another layer of paint because the wash doesn't reactivate. You can paint right on top of that to create a more opaque layer. Just as I did when I was painting my teacup. I work from the middle of the space and that I'm filling in and push the paint in toward my teacup and out toward my intended border. I work all the way around using this method. My last step is to use my darkest color to add outlines. I like to do this with a rather dry brush to get a chalky effect. I pick up some paint with my brush, then dab it on my paper towel. If your paint is too thin, you'll see the paper towel drink up the color and you won't be able to get this dry brush effect. On the other hand, if your brush is too dry, it's not going to work either since there won't be enough pigment and moisture to create lines with the brush. I like to use the brush that feels like it's got its last bit of paint on it so that the line starts when but dries out as I pull it down the page. I like to do a very loose, dry outline of the mug and the bottom of the saucer. I like to use a stronger wet line around the saucer's brim. Once everything else is finished, I go through my painting and fix up any smudge lines or lines that are too light by going over them with another layer of paint. Once you're finished, it's time to move on to the pattern. 8. Pattern: In this section, I'll go through how I simplify palettes for my teacup collections. You can use reference photos here or make stuff up. I create my cups and collections, and I'd like to mix very detailed patterns with more simple designs and teacup space-time references with tea cups that only exist in laboring. There are three areas to focus on when you're planning the pattern for your teacup, the cup itself inside the rim and the saucer. In general, I like to keep the patterns on the rim and saucer and more simple and go wild on the outside of the cup. I'm drawn two more simple patterns in general, so things like stripes, leaves, and symbol dotted lines are things I include in a lot of my work. When i'm looking at patterns for inspiration, i'm looking at them through that lens, trying to find bits and pieces that I feel comfortable painting that I think are interesting and that I think I can alter to suit my personal style. While I mostly finished the first part of the pattern, right now, all i'm doing is adding a few lines to add definition to my teacup. I really like my lines being a little bit wonky, not totally proportional. I think it adds a lot of personality to my painting. But if that's not something you like, then don't do it. Now, i'm working on the inside of my teacup. You'll notice that I am making this interior pattern mirror what's on the external edge at the cup. I just like making a little details like this that make things match as cohesive painting. In the same way, i'm going to take fat circle pattern that we saw on the outside of the cup and put it around the edges of my saucer. One thing you'll notice is that this painting that you're looking at, looks almost nothing like that reference photo I showed you at the beginning. I like to really loosely interpret what I see in front of me. In this case, I saw that cool circled pattern on the interior of the cup and I just went to town. I wasn't too worried about making it look like the teacup that I saw because I wanted it to be something that was very personal to me. 9. Collection: Now you know all the steps I take to paint a teacup. To create a set, I keep a few things in mind. First, color is the absolute best way to tie things together, which is why I use a limited palette and repeat colors from painting to painting. I like to use the colors in different contexts between each painting to keep things fresh. For example, if I use the yellow as the color of the teacup in one painting, I'll use it as a background in another. Secondly, reusing motifs in different ways across your collection is also a great way to tie paintings together. I've done collections with fall themes, and leaves, more geometric patterns, and with Halloween motifs. Thirdly and lastly, a great way to create variation throughout your collection is to play with the shape of your tea cups. I love to use a variety of tea cup shapes and sizes, adding unique details to each one to keep it fresh; things like sculpted edges, funky handles, and unique pedestals below the cup. I've painted dozens of tea cups and I still have dozens more I want to paint. I can't wait to see what you come up with. 10. Thank You: Thank you so much for watching my class. It has been a pleasure sharing my process with you if you are posting your work on Instagram, tag me, @alanna cartier illustration or use the hashtag alanna teaches. I'm so excited to see your projects.