It’s time to learn about gouache, and start painting with it too. So grab your gouache painting supplies and let’s paint!
Gouache is an opaque paint, which means it is not transparent like watercolor. It is a thick, water based paint bound with a gum arabic binder, and mixed with a white pigment. It also has a velvety matte texture when dried. It can also be reactivated, like watercolor, when dried.
Gouache has the consistency of watercolor, and the opacity of acrylic. It’s like a hybrid of the two. It can also be used on a variety of surfaces, like wood, glass, ceramic, etc., because of its opaque nature. Unlike watercolor, you do not want to add water to lighten the colors. Instead, you’ll want to add white paint to achieve lighter colors.
The nice thing about gouache paint, is that aside from mixing colors, there is no prep time. It comes pre-wet out of the tube, so all you have to do is add water and paint.
When using gouache, you don’t want to work straight out of the tube. You’ll want to dilute it with water, to achieve a cream-like consistency for best results. The reason you don’t want to add too little or too much water, is because the paint will either crack or be too thin, respectively.
After you have mixed all the colors that you want to paint with, the next step is to paint. When painting with gouache, you’ll want to follow a few simple rules. Your base layers should be the thinnest, diluted with the most water. As you work on each new layer, keep adding less and less water. The less water you have in the paint, the less likely you are to reactivate the previous layers. The second rule is to work from your darkest shades, into the lighter shades. This is how to get the smoothest blending, without reactivating your layers. Since gouache dries so quickly, you’ll want to work fast, and working dark to light helps with that. However, this last rule isn’t necessary, unless you want smooth blending. If that’s not what you’re looking for, feel free to experiment!
One thing to note, is that gouache doesn’t work too well with the “wet into wet” technique. The paints tend to resist each other, instead of mixing. So, all the blending you will want to do, should be controlled with a paintbrush, like with acrylics. Keep in mind, lighter gouache colors tend to dry darker, and darker colors tend to dry lighter.
You can perform a few different techniques with gouache paint. First, there is the “light to dark” technique. This is where you paint light colored layers, and then add your shading on top.
Next is the “dark to light” technique, which is where you start painting your dark shadows, and work in your lighter colors.
Then, there is “dry brushing.” Just like with watercolor, this is where you add little to no water to your paint to get a textured look.
Gouache is also great for linework because of its viscosity and opaqueness.
The last technique is to use water to soften the edges of the paint. Now, doing this over another lay could reactivate the previous layer, and pull it up, so be very cautious with this one.
So, now that you’ve learned the basics of painting with gouache, grab your paints and experiment to see which painting style suits you!
Article by McCaela Gates
Made especially for MyArtscape
Aside from the paint itself, one of the most important tools for a painter, is the paintbrush!
These are an extension of you, as you paint your masterpieces. Paintbrushes come in many different bristle hair types, and shapes, and each brush is tailored for different painting styles and paints. Hopefully, this will help you choose which type of brush is best for you.
You may have heard of long handled brushes, and short handled brushes, but which one do you use? You’ll want to choose a paintbrush handle that suits how you paint.
Long handled brushes are great if you paint far away from your canvas, like at an easel. Normally, longer handled brushes are larger in size than their short handled counterparts. Since the handles are so long, they’re ideal for painting in oils, when you don’t want to be too close to the fumes of the paint and mediums. They’re also great for painting in acrylics. You also don’t want to paint with a long handled brush at a desk, or you risk poking your eye! Since you’re painting further away from your piece, you may not care about fine detail, and are concerned about blocking in shapes.
Short handled brushes are typically used when you are painting at a desk. Usually, when you paint at a desk, you’re relatively close to your painting, and you may not want the extra length or weight of a longer handle. These types of brushes are usually smaller in size, for more fine detail.
One of the most important factors in choosing which brush is right for you, is hair type. This is split into two categories: Natural hair and synthetic hair. As you might have already figured out, natural hair is made from animals. Animal hair is particularly good at holding paint and water, however, it can be quite pricey depending on the type of hair you want.
On the other hand, we have synthetic brushes. These brushes are made from nylon and polyester, and are quite the rival to natural hair brushes. For each type of natural hair brush, there is a synthetic counterpart that performs as well as, if not better than, the natural hair. They’re also a lot more affordable.
For watercoloring, you’ll want a nice, soft brush with the capability of holding large amounts of water. For this, you’ll either want a kolinsky, or a sable brush, if you’re looking into natural hair. These hair types are ideal for holding water, they provide a nice snap, and hold paint very well. If you’re thinking of going the synthetic route, a nice golden taklon brush will do wonderfully. They provide the same benefits of a kolinsky or a sable brush.
As far as oils and acrylics are concerned, you’re going to want to go with a hog bristled brush, for natural, or an imitation bristled brush, for synthetic. Again both types perform just as well as the other. These stiff bristled brushes don’t hold much water, but are resilient, and create nice brush strokes. If you don’t want brush strokes in your oil or acrylics, a golden taklon brush would be perfect.
One very important thing you want to keep in mind is, you should never mix your water based brushes, with your oil based ones. This can damage a brush very quickly. Keep a set for each type, and if possible, each medium you paint in.
After you’ve figured out what hair type you want, the next thing would be to decide which brush shape to paint with. Most paint set come with a variety of shapes, and each shape has it’s uses. Each brush can be used with any medium, but some brushes are better suited toward a particular paint.
One of the most common brushes, is a round brush. Rounds are brushes that sport a nice round body, and come to a nice point. These are ideal for watercoloring, and getting into small areas. These brushes usually have a nice spring to them, and you are able to get a nice variety of line thicknesses with them.
Similar to the round, is a liner, or a rigger brush. These are visually similar to rounds, but they are skinnier and have longer hairs. Liners can hold a lot of paint, which makes them ideal for lettering. You can even use the for tiny details, like animal fur. This is a brush that can be used across all media very well.
Another somewhat common brush, is the flat brush. These paintbrushes are, as the name suggests, a flat edged brush. Flat brushes are great for blocking in large areas, and getting crisp edges. Usually the bristles in a flat brush are twice as long as they are wide. These are mainly used with watercolor, but can be used with oil and acrylic.
Then there is the bright brush, which is very similar to a flat brush. Brights are equally as long as they are wide, and tend to curl inward a little. While using a bright, you have a little bit more control over your paint, than with a flat. These brushes are usually used for oils and acrylics.
As the name suggests, angle brushes have an angular cut in the hairs of the brush. Angle brushes are fantastic for getting precise lines, and are great for line variations. You can also get nice edges and get into corners easily with angle brushes.
Lastly in the flat family, we have the wash brush. Wash brushes are used for very broad strokes, and because they have very short bristles in relation to their width, you have even more control over them. They’re mostly used in watercolor painting.
Filbert brushes are almost a hybrid between a round brush and a flat brush, making them very versatile. You can either hold it flatly to the canvas or paper to make nice broad strokes and block in areas, or turn it to the side, to create thinner lines. Since these are great for blending because of the rounded top, they are really good for acrylics and oils.
Fan brushes are brushes with the hairs arranged in a fan shape. These paint brushes are great for getting texture, and for painting things like trees, grass or fur. Fan brushes can also be used for soft shading, and blending.
The last brush to talk about, is the rake brush. Rake brushes are considered special effects brushes, because of the interesting marks they make. They look like a regular flat brush, with the exception of the tips, which are very sparse, resembling a rake. Rake brushes are commonly used for painting grass, cross hatching, fur, wood grain, and more!
Now, which brush do you pick? Well, that’s all up to you. A lot of brushes come in a set that has a variety of brush shapes. Each brush shape has its own unique skills, so try them out, and see which brushes you like the most. Just because a brush is good for one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t use it for another, so feel free to experiment!
Article by McCaela Gates
Made especially for MyArtscape
Now that you have the supplies, let’s start painting with acrylics. Let’s learn a little bit more about them, and talk about tips and painting techniques you could try.
Acrylic paint is usually made up of two components: the pigment and the binder.
However, you can’t just slap pigment and binder together to create the acrylic paint, so it’s a bit of a balancing act. A few things are added to the mixture to create a usable paint. These include: emulsifiers to prevent the polymer solids from binding together, dispersants to keep the pigments from clumping, wet-edge agents to regulate the drying time, and thickeners to create the buttery texture of the acrylic paints.
For the most part, you won’t need too many things to get started with acrylic painting. A lot of the prep time with acrylics, will be spent pre-mixing your paints.
Aside from the paint itself, you’ll need some paintbrushes, a jar or two of water, a palette to mix your paints on, a rag or paper towel for wiping your paintbrushes onto, and canvas, wooden board or canvas panel to paint on.
Time to prep those paints! Grab the colors you want to paint with, or the paints you want to mix together, and squeeze them out onto a palette. You can either mix them together using a palette knife, or your paintbrush. Make sure to mix a little more paint color than you think you’ll need. It’ll prevent you from having to mix more later, and risk not mixing the exact same color. Work quickly though! Acrylic paints dry relatively fast.
Now that you have your paints all mixed and ready to go, it’s finally time to paint.
When you work in acrylics, you’ll want to work in layers. The first layers should be thinned down with either water or a thinning medium, to help plan out your painting.
You can use your thinned down paint as a tool for sketching your piece, and as you add layers it won’t show through. This is called an underpainting, and it’s a great starting off point.
Because of the opaque nature of acrylics, it’s very easy to correct any mistakes you might make. All you have to do is let the problematic layer dry, and go back over it afterwards.
As you layer your paints, you’ll want to work more and more opaquely, using more paint and less water or medium than your previous layers. You should let each layer full dry before starting a new layer, unless you are wanting to work wet into wet.
Something beginners might find frustrating about acrylic paints is blending. Since acrylic paint dries quickly, it can be hard to make seamless blends.
There are mediums which you can add to your paints to help, which will be covered a bit later, or you can always use water to prolong the drying time. You’ll only need a tiny bit of water, which you can put into a spray bottle and gently mist to keep your paint damp. Don’t use too much, or you risk making your paint run and bleed onto the canvas. Another thing that can help with blending, is a dry, fluffy paintbrush, and a light touch.
There are many different techniques you can play with, when using acrylics, and these are a few of them. Try them out for yourself! First off, there is dry-brushing. This is a very simple technique, and only requires a bit of paint, and a dry paintbrush.
A great method for blending is the wet into wet technique. This method is where you keep adding paint to already wet layers, and blend them into each other. This technique can be handy, but it is easy to build up too much paint. Be careful not to over blend, as your painting can get muddy.
The next technique to try is called, washing. Basically, you’ll want to water your paint down, to a watercolor consistency. This is great for soft effects like watercolor, that dry to be permanent.
Another great technique is stippling. Stippling is very easy to do, and requires lots of dotting of your paintbrush onto the canvas, to create texture.
Similar to stippling, is a technique called sponging. This can be achieved by dabbing a sponge onto your painting surface, to create different and interesting shapes and textures.
Next technique we’re going to talk about is called impasto. It’s a very fun technique, where you add thick amounts of paint in strokes with a palette knife. It’s a great way to add texture to any painting.
Glazing is also a fantastic technique to try. By mixing a glazing medium with acrylic paint, you create a transparent film to glaze over other colors, tinting them and creating a stained-glass effect.
The last technique is something you might be familiar with, and that is detailing. Detailing is when you use a fine paintbrush to add finishing touches to a painting.
Now, grab your acrylic paints, and try some of these tips and techniques for yourself!
Article by McCaela Gates
Made especially for MyArtscape
With any painting, you’re going to want a good surface to paint on. For each type of paint, there are a few options to choose from, depending on your preference.
From watercolor papers, to stretched canvases, there is always an option for everyone.
When you plan painting with media that may need a lot of water, like watercolor and gouache, you’ll want something that can handle the water.
Watercolor paper is specifically designed to work well with both watercolor and gouache. When picking out a watercolor paper, you don’t want paper that’s too thin. Usually, any watercolor paper labeled 140lb (300 gsm) is a great start.
You could even get a heavier paper if you wish. You want to make sure that the paper is meant for water-based media, because even if the paper is heavy enough, if it isn’t designed for water, it won’t be coated. Non-coated papers will warp badly and peel with water.
Along with paper weight, another thing to consider is the paper texture. Most watercolor papers come in hot press and cold press, some occasionally come in rough.
Hot pressed watercolor paper has a very smooth texture, whereas cold pressed has a rough, toothy texture. Rough paper is just like cold pressed, but with more texture to it. However, texture is really the only difference, so feel free to experiment with which one you like most.
Another thing to consider is what the paper is made of. Most watercolor papers are made with a mixture of wood pulp and other cellulose fibers. Higher quality papers are made with 100% cotton, and are more expensive. These higher quality papers can also take a lot more lifting, scrubbing, etc., than the lower quality papers.
If you’re painting with thicker paints, like acrylic and oils, you will want a sturdy surface that can handle them. For that, you will want a canvas of some type.
There are a few types of canvases: One is stretched canvases, which are canvases stretched over wooden bars, you can buy these pre-stretched, or you can stretch your own.
Another is canvas panels, which are canvases mounted to a solid board.
Lastly, there are also canvas pads, which are pads of paper, meant to mimic canvas texture. Canvas pads are great for beginners, or for practice.
Canvas can also come in different textures, depending on how it’s woven. The finer it’s woven together, the smoother the texture. If you prefer smooth, detailed strokes, you’ll want a very finely woven canvas. If you want bold, textured strokes, you may prefer a rough texture.
Another thing to consider is cost. There are two types of canvas: linen and cotton. Linen is the top of the line, and is expensive. Cotton, while lower in quality, is affordable and more than suitable for long lasting paintings.
Each canvas can come primed or unprimed. For oils, you’ll always want to either find a pre-primed canvas, or prime your own with gesso. Acrylics can be painted onto an unprimed canvas, but the colors will be duller, than on a canvas that is primed with gesso. Gesso makes sure that the paint will adhere properly to the
You’ll want a good surface that can handle whatever medium you throw at it. Try a few different types of canvases, or papers, and see which one suits your painting style the best!
Article by McCaela Gates
Made especially for MyArtscape