Experiments with Watercolour & Gouache

Experiments with Watercolour & Gouache - student project

Watercolour

I painted three small improvised studies with one red and one blue from my set of Micador watercolour paints, plus a bit of white in the third study. I seldom use these paints because they are dye based and probably not lightfast, but they are very vibrant and great for just having fun. I tried different size brushes, different ways of moving the brush, wet-on-wet versus wet-on-dry, and mixing paint on the palette versus dropping more colour into wet paint.

Experiments with Watercolour & Gouache - image 1 - student project

Experiments with Watercolour & Gouache - image 2 - student project

Experiments with Watercolour & Gouache - image 3 - student project

Gouache

My gouache trials were planned. I used Winsor and Newton paints, but different papers.

For my first set of experiments I used inexpensive cold press watercolour paper and leftover paint from my palette. 

For the first pair of leaves, I used fairly thin paint. The left leaf has light green only on the right half, so the dark green is a single layer. The right leaf has a base layer of light green over the whole leaf, and the dark green as the second layer looks a little more textured. Perhaps the right leaf looks more integrated, though this is very subtle.

For the second pair of leaf branches, I used thicker paint. I expected it to dry more evenly, but it turned out very streaky, possibly because the brush was somewhat stiff. I left the left leaf without details as a record of the paint texture. I drew veins on the second leaf with an acrylic marker which I had never used before. The lines are wider than I had intended, but they could work in some situations.

For the final leaf I used a generous amount of thin light green paint so it would hopefully stay wet for a minute. I quickly painted the darker green veins. Some of the base layer had already dried enough so the darker detail is clearly defined; other parts of the leaf were wet enough for the detail to blur. The effect is like watercolour; the variation is attractive.

Experiments with Watercolour & Gouache - image 4 - student project

For my second set of gouache experiments I used good quality paper with a smooth surface and mostly fresh paint (Zinc White, Gold Ochre, and imitation Gold) plus a little dark brown from my palette.

For the first branch I painted all the leaf surfaces with the light colour first. When it was dry I added the medium brown for the stem and around the leaf edges. I also painted the gold dots on top of the light base layer.

For the second branch I painted the stem and all the leaf surfaces with the medium colour first. When it was dry I added the dark brown centres on top of the base layer. I found this easier than the first branch. Finally I added the gold dots on top of the dark brown.

The gold gouache is shiny when light hits it directly, but mostly just appears as a colour when there is less light.

These two examples have the solid look usually associated with gouache.

Experiments with Watercolour & Gouache - image 5 - student project

For my last set of gouache experiments I used the smoother side of black Canson Mi-Teintes.

First branch: one layer of pale pink mixed using Zinc White. The paint seemed a good consistency, but a lot of black shows through.

Second branch: two layers of the same pale pink.

Third branch: one layer of Titanium White.

Fourth branch: one layer of a stronger pink mixed using Titanium White.

Experiments with Watercolour & Gouache - image 6 - student project