Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I was asked about my technique on doing Gouache watercolors on my FIREHOLE RIVER posting and thought I would post an explanation about "my" way.
I did this particular painting on 300# Arches Watercolor paper. For some paintings I find it works pretty well and on others it drives me crazy and wonder why I chose it. My favorite and most used is #1 illustration Board by Arches that I can only find at Dick Blick. My last posted Painting-a-Day blog, ABOVE RAMSHORN RANCH, was paintied on Illustration Board. I was on a roll and did it in 45 minutes though that is the time frame I try to do most of my paintings on that blog. In doing workshops it amazes me to print out a materials list and ask for illustration board and a few folks show up with any of an assortment of watercolor papers. I always bring a few sheets[30"x40"]along and try selling off various sizes but always take a beating on that. With great expectations in mind folks try out my technique and are quickly discouraged. It seems easy but takes some getting used to.
I use all transparent watercolors and use them with White Gouache. Gouache watercolors areavailable but they are a little too flat looking for my taste. I used to use them a lot for book and magazine illustration as they work great for reproduction work. I just like the ability to use some transparancy here and there on a painting. It is easiest [and so hard for the beginner]to think of the paints more as oils than watercolors. It is shocking for the uninformed to see me mixing my watercolor paints with a pallette knife onto my Porceline pallette. The amount of water used is important as A lot of dry brush work is involved. The true beauty of it all is that you can paint dark over light and light over dark. The trick is to do it when dry or mud is the result. That is the hardest thing for the beginner to figure out. It is important, I think, to keep in mind good color theory as you work with these as with watercolor there is a point where too much paint can get one into trouble. As with my oils, I have a preconceived idea pretty much of where I want the painting to go and work from left[I am right handed]to right. From top down and from back to forward. I used to use an electric eraser to fix glaring mistakes but as the years have gone by I have gotten used to not painting myself into that corner. This technique can be very frustrating for the beginner but I tell all my students in workshops and the Wilderness Pack trip Paint-outs I used to do to do 100 paintings and then look back at #1 and see how much they have learned.
Don't make the mistake as some workshop folks have done and get Chinese White. It won't work. I really like the large[huge]tube of Gouach White by Pebeo that I can only find through Cheap Joes. Another beauty of the paints is that they can be rewet after being dry no matter how old. The whites though will have to be worked on a little as they get a little grainey but can be revived. A perfect tool for rewetting paints is the little bugger getters found in the baby section at your favorite Dept Store.
In my last posted Painting-a-Day blog, FROM RAMSHORN RANCH, I did use the white of the illustration board showing through as in a transparent painting in palces but a lot of opaque also. This give a shimmer of light in wanted places.
If I have missed anything and you have questions please feel free to e-mail me or comment on this posting.


debwardart said...

Thank you so much for your explanation. I've never tried gouache, other than as touch up, and think I'll be giving it a try now.
p.s. How's the foot???

M J Muir said...

This post will be so helpful to artists wanting to try gouache. The detail and description is clear and easy to follow.
I like the way you placed buffalo into the painting because it gives a sense of the vastness and size of the landscape.

Debra Keirce said...

How wonderful of you to share your processs and favorite media Gary! I love the depth of color and detail in your pieces.

Watercolors by Susan Roper said...

As the one who requested this explanation I have to, again, thank you for your generosity in sharing your process with us all. I have done entire painting in gouache but was less than pleased since I used tube gouache colors and there were just flat, as you said. Since then, I have only used transparent watercolors mixed with Pebeo White Gouache and liked the look better, but have not tried another wholly gouache painting....I will now, though!

I surely wish I could take one of your wilderness plein air workshops!

Gary Keimig said...

the wilderness workshops were great fun for all I think though we had one in mid August that has always been refered to as the trip to Hell. Snow the whole time. Cold, damp, wet, miserable for most. Had one lady who refused to come out of her tent and would ask as I passed by if I would help her with this or that. Was some beautiful light effects for painting though. Thankfully it was clear the day in and the day out as it can be pretty miserable packing in the mountains in a snow storm. Rain is bad enough.
I haven't used straight gouaches since illustration days and like you said I really like the transparent mixed with the white gouache.

Janet Belich said...

Hi Gary,
I have used gouache for years but only recently learned how to spell it ! ( another story ). Any way... I was using them rather transparently and I remember a fella coming up to me at a festival just dumbfounded that I wasn't using them the typical "gouache way". Like there's a law ? I go forth & back to them every so often between the transparent and fluid acrylics. Have you tried them on hot press Arches? I think I like to work with them best on HP.Thank you from me too for sharing !

Unknown said...

Hi Gary,

I really like this painting, love the colors and it is nice to see these colors at this time of the year!

Thanks for sharing.