oh my gouache: learning new art media with cats

A Creative Life, animals in art, art techniques, artistic inspirations, cat portrait, Cats in art

As I posted recently (here) I’ve been playing around with a new-to-me art media: gouache.

Here’s my process of learning a new art media:

  1. Read 3 or 4 different sources that describe how to work in the media. While I’m reading I’m looking for “basic best practices” as well as what the “chief virtues” or strengths of the medium art and whether it’s advertised virtues might meet my needs.
  2. I look at artworks by other artists that use the medium. It’s best if I can see the art in real life – but seeing reproductions online or in books is helpful too.  I was lucky enough to get to see some real-life works using gouache at the Portland Art Museum (see my last post)
  3. Buy the best quality medium  materials that I can find.  I went with Holbien Artist Gouache. It’s a company that’s been around a while and the primary mixing gouache set I got for the initial test is professional quality. (I did not get the “Holbien Acryla Gouache” as it is more like acrylic and would not be helpful for my purposes)
  4. When I get new medium materials I do something with them as soon as I get them home. Even if all I do is put some paints on a palette and make a few marks. I find that the sooner I start the better my chances of developing a new habit/ability instead of having “something I always meant to try”.
  5. Then once I’ve dabbled a bit I’ll take a subject matter that I’ve done fairly well using other mediums. I use that subject for the first 3 or 4 times and render it as well as I can in the new medium.  This way I can focus on the details, methods and possibilities of the new medium rather than thinking of subject matter too.

Here’s what I did with my new gouache set (the primary mixing set) plus a few extra colors I knew I’d need (since I draw a lot of animals I knew I needed browns).

I picked the sheet music because the paper is very thin and fragile – even more thin than the paper in my Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook. So I reasoned that if the paints worked fairly well on the sheet music then I’d be able to use them on other thin papers.

I picked Siamese cats as a subject because they’re, well, musical.

The result of my test? Oh my! I think I may be falling in love with gouache!

9 thoughts on “oh my gouache: learning new art media with cats

  1. Gouache seems to love you back! These are terrific and I’d never have guessed you were new to the medium from these results. Now I’m very intrigued because of their ability to work on a thin substrate. That opens up all sorts of possibilities.

    1. It really does open up possibilities! Especially for the Brooklyn Library sketchbooks… How do you plan to add color to yours? Or do you? I’ve still been reading about gouache – and from what fellow users say the quality of the gouache sets that one buys makes a huge difference in whether or not one is pleased with the results. So far I like the Holbien brand. I do plan to go back to the store and get another color of red. The one that came with my set is too purple for my preferences. But more on that in some near and future blog post. 😉

          1. They also worked well for my context as they are portable and I was often working on my sketchbook while supervising my kids doing homework or when out at a play park with them.

            1. The images are all on my other blog (pictink.wordpress.com). I’ve just got to do something with the cover then I’m sending it off – though I may wait until after winter break so it doesn’t get lost in all the holiday mail.

Thank you for reading and sharing encouragements!