Gouache and grin cycles

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, books, ebook, fine art, food in art, illustration, mental health, printed books, product design, publications - publishing, published art, Sustainable creativity

Since I’ve been asked by several people: here’s info about the art media gouache, why it makes me grin and my working cycles with it.

Gouache is a water based paint. It’s more opaque than watercolor. Using gouache feels like spreading soft butter on toast. Applied gouache dries quickly but is easily made moist and workable again. It dries to a matte non sticky appearance which makes it suitable for use in bound sketchbooks, in folded artist books as well as for fine art to be framed. Gouache also reproduces well via various printing mechanisms on fabrics, in printed books and on many other surfaces.

In the studio, because I don’t have to worry about my gouache paints becoming unusable on my palette before I can use them (as is sometimes an issue with acrylics), gouache is suited to my busy life. I call this my gouache and grin cycle.

I prefer to work on multiple art projects at a time in “short bursts” on each project. Rather than count on a long span of uninterrupted time I dash in and work a bit on an art project, then go make lunch or do whatever stuff-of-life or other work matter that needs to be done. Then I cycle back to an art project…

To borrow a sports analogy I just try to advance the ball, my various art projects, a little bit each day rather than doing a project all at once. I try to amuse myself with whimsical art making, aka spreading color, for at least a few minutes every day no matter what else is happening in life. The qualities and attributes of gouache help me to do this, to keep my creative games in play – come heck or high water.

Here’s a series of photos showing my gouache working methods in my sketchbook. (This is also my work method for fine art and other projects.) In the first photo you see my 3 x 5 inch watercolor sketchbook held open with clips. Also pictured from the top left and rotating clockwise: paper towel, peppermint candy model, graphite pencil, 3 watercolor pencils, 2 waterproof ink pens, a water brush and my lidded paint palette with its wells of various dry gouache colors.

In the photo below I begin 3 demo peppermints: the top left mint is sketched in graphite pencil and waterproof ink pens. The bottom left mint is drawn in watercolor pencil only. The mint on the bottom right page was doodled in all of the above; graphite pencil, ink and watercolor pencil. [The quote was just on the sketchbook page I chose to use for this demo.]

So you can see what they look like here in the photo below are two tubes of gouache paints. I like the Holbein Artist Designers Gouache brand best but the Winsor and Newton brand is good too. (There’s a monster called “acryla gouache” also available on the market which I avoid like a character would avoid a flesh eating zombie in a horror film.)

I begin painting by laying down the local color – the general color an item is supposed to be. At this point I don’t worry about shadows or highlights or details. I just get the color shapes down – in this case for the peppermint candies.

I did not squeeze out new paint from my tubes when I began. I got my water brush wet and put a few drops of water on the dried red gouache already on my palette so I can use the newly moistened color. I add a small amount of moisture to a portion of the dried chunk of red gouache until that portion feels like soft butter, then I paint the candy stripes.

Here’s a closer look.

Now I get the general color and shape down for the wrapper in the same method. I put a drop or two of water on my blue gouache color, get my brush damp, dab at the blue paint a second or two to get a portion of it moistened and softened – then I paint.

Now I create the cast shadows using a watery mixture of the red and blue gouache colors. To make the watery mixture on the lid of my palette I dipped my brush on the now moist blue color, dab on an area of the lid, then dab the brush clean on the paper towel, then dipping into the now moist red and adding it to the tiny blue puddle, mixing till it’s a purple color I want for the shadow. Then I add a tiny bit of plain water to the newly mixed purple till it’s a small fingernail size puddle of watery purple – this enables me to do the cast shadows in a faint shadowy way.

Now I do squeeze out a tiny amount of the white gouache from the tube and use it, fresh from the tube, to make the highlights on the candy and wrappers. Note in the photo below how the white gouache can completely obscure the darkest ink lines. This is part of what I love about gouache – any mistake can be covered with the opaque paints. If an edge in a painting needs to be softened or a color edge blended all I need is a wet brush.

Then in a few minutes, perhaps the length of time it takes for a decent sip or two of coffee, when the paint is dry I go back over the paint with ink lines or watercolor pencil lines to snap the details into sharper focus.

Now that I’ve finished painting I leave my sketchbook and my palette open and let them dry completely. I even leave the shadow color mixture on my palette lid to dry. All I will need to do to reuse the mixed color in the future is to get my brush wet and dip in.

Peppermints are one of my guaranteed-to-make-me-grin art subjects that don’t require a lot of time or planning. I’ve learned over years of painting peppermints that different candy makers have their own peppermint candy look. And I don’t mean the wrapper.

Here’s a fabric pattern I did of peppermints for my Spoonflower shop. I used the gouache techniques I describe above to create this pattern. But do you notice how these mints are different from the ones I did in the demo above? Different candy maker… yummy too!

More about my “Peppermint Candies” fabric pattern is here: https://www.spoonflower.com/en/fabric/8224417-peppermint-candies-by-sueclancy

To illustrate what I mean about working in short bursts despite life situations. A hot water pipe burst on our hot water heater recently. (Talk about heck and high water! 🤦‍♀️) After we got the immediate crisis dealt with I did little quick bouts of drawing as a self calming technique. Also while waiting for plumbers etc restoration crews I doodled and painted in my sketchbook. Gouache makes it easy for me do short bursts of spreading color which makes me smile. And having had a brief grin makes dealing with life much better.

Anyway, there’s a new artist book I’ve done for children called “B Mouse Reads A Book”. In it you can see my original ink and gouache artwork, and how the art media is on folded paper in this video on my YouTube channel. Because this book was meant to be handled in a gallery I used a spray fix varnish to make sure the gouache wouldn’t smear or run.

But since the pandemic hit there’s no going to art galleries to handle or view artist books in person. So I was lucky enough to have “B Mouse Reads A Book” published as an ebook here on Storyberries.com! They also included the book B Mouse is reading too…it’s another artist book I created as part of the B Mouse Reads A Book story…there’s a link at the bottom of the B Mouse book that you can click to see the companion book.

“B Mouse Reads A Book” by Clancy – https://www.storyberries.com/free-books-for-kids-b-mouse-reads-a-book-by-sue-clancy-bedtime-stories/

I’m sure you can recognize in the image above the ways I did my combinations of ink and gouache. The video shows how flexible gouache can be when applied on paper bound or folded as pages. The ebook shows how well the nuances of the colors show even as a digital image.

If you look at my portfolio pages you can see my ink and gouache work as both fine art framed in an art gallery setting as well as reproduced in printed books.

Most of my jigsaw puzzle designs, greeting cards and odd mugs on my Zazzle shop were also created with my combinations of ink, watercolor pencil and gouache. It’s a very versatile media.

That reminds me to tell of another practical matter: if you apply gouache too thickly it can pop or flake off. Especially in a folded or bound paper book. And when scanning or photographing gouache artwork for reproduction a too-thick gouache application can cast shadows unrelated to the artwork subject. So I apply gouache as if I were basting bread with semi melted or melted butter.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and found it helpful for when you try gouache yourself.

See you here next Monday. And in case you’d like to know even more about gouache – here below are a few links to more information about painting with gouache:

COMBINE WATERCOLOR AND GOUACHE TIPS https://www.erikalancaster.com/art-blog/3-tips-to-combine-watercolor-and-gouache-like-a-pro

GOUACHE INFO (VERY GOOD)
https://www.skillshare.com/blog/learn/7-artists-using-gouache-in-gorgeous-ways

GOUACHE SKILLS
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.skillshare.com/blog/learn/8-gouache-paint-pro-tips-you-should-know%3Fformat=amp

GOUACHE IN SKETCHBOOKS
https://juliabausenhardt.com/how-to-get-started-with-gouache-paint/

LENA RIVO – GOUACHE
https://www.lenarivo.com/guide-to-gouache and generally see
https://www.lenarivo.com

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!

oh my gouache

A Creative Life, art techniques, artist book, artistic inspirations, business of art, sketchbook, The Sketchbook Project

The cookbook signing I did recently with Chef Kim Mahan went very well (cookbook info here) and then I took some days off.  Which means that I read books and dabbled with a new-to-me art media – gouache.

You see my wife and I went with a fellow artist friend of ours, Donna Young, (www.donnayoung.com) to the Portland Art Museum to see The Wyeths: Three Generations.  An exhibit of works by N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, Jamie Wyeth and Harriet Wyeth.  https://portlandartmuseum.org/

Naturally the three of us discussed the compositions of the works – and we discussed the art mediums each Wyeth used.  Donna knew more about gouache than I did – and one of the things she said that it was less water-y than watercolor and not as plastic as acrylic. My curiosity was peaked.

After our day at the museum I looked up gouache and read of its ease-of-use in books about art mediums; I read of the application of gouache in bound sketchbooks but also its use when a painting/image is intended for reproduction.

I thought “Ah ha! This might be the solution for my problem of how to color my Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook”.  I’ve been slowly working on a visual story titled “Time Tavern” but the paper in the sketchbook as it comes from the Brooklyn Art Library is so thin that I knew my usual methods of adding color, acrylic, watercolor and etc. mixed media would over power the paper. Just using color pencil didn’t feel as bold as I like to be so for some time now I’ve been pondering what to do to add color. (You can see my last post about that project here)

What Donna said about gouache, and my subsequent readings about it, made me think it might be an option for me. So I went to a local art supply store where I got some Holbien Artist Gouache.  Here below is a pic of the colors I got, my palette set-up and the color notes I made.

DSC_0025

I also generally scribbled with my brushes dipped in each of my new gouache colors on various pieces of paper – some thick, others thin. First tentative color marks make me very hopeful…. oh my gosh, I think I may like gouache!

How to draw dogs guide published!

A Creative Life, animals in art, Art Licensing, art techniques, Dogs in Art, drawing as thinking, illustration, Sue Draws Dogs, The Sketchbook Project, visual thinking
My mini guide has been published!!!! It’s called “How To Draw Dogs” by Sue Clancy. I’m so excited about this – and can’t wait to see my printed copies!  Below is a photo I took back when I was creating the guide – before it got published. Then I forgot to post the work-in-progress photo… Anyway…
You can access the finished guide here: https://www.brooklynartlibrary.com/mini-guides/
DrawDogsMiniGuide