|Red Evening Gouache on mdf 8x10|
Working in gouache for plein air sketches has become more popular in recent years. There is some great work done by Scott Christensen , Kathleen Dunphy and Carol Marine to name a few. In this time of Covid, with no workshops and little gallery activity, I am finding time to play and try new things. So why not try gouache.
I worked in gouache at the Watts Atelier in California a decade ago. A gouache class was recommended before working in oils - as the gouache can be reactivated and blended making a good first step in portraiture etc. I can remember enjoying the medium. Today my interest would be in plein air landscape, working with a fast drying medium requiring a limited amount of equipment.
|My grand daughter using gouache at the Watts Atelier a decade ago|
My next issue was the surface and the general need to frame the pieces behind glass. Most would be simple sketches on watercolour paper but hoped that I could work on surfaces and seal them to avoid the need for glass. I worked on mdf board, illustration board and terra skin ( stone paper). Each was a unique experience with a unique result. The paint reactivates immediately on contact with water. I first tried lightly brushing an isolation coat (a sealing coat used on acylic paintings) with a soft brush. Seals well but cannot avoid activating some of the paint. Also results in a semi gloss finish which is not what a lot of gouche painters want - they like it flat. I , on the other hand , I like some degree of finish. So then I tried hair spray ( what I use to secure a graphite or charcoal sketch). One spray reduced the activation but two or three make the paint more secure. With that I could apply an isolation coat without difficulty - so I had an option for hanging without glass. I also tried an acrylic based varnish spray wich worked well - but even in an open garage was difficult to cope with. But at least I know that I have choices if I wish to hang without glass.
|Sketch with acrylic marker working on illustration board 8x10|
What really pleased me was how well it worked on mdf board coated with gesso. So I had an archival cheap surface with the possibility of securing the finish - but accepting that it would be semi gloss - not the "true" flatness of the medium.
I also tried adding "tooth' to each of the surfaces using a layer of Liquatex Clear Gesso - which leaves a grainy finish I quite like.
So now to paint. Had the box out a few times and also tried a few pieces in the studio. It is a mark-making layering medium, much like how I paint with acrylics - so I think I might like it. It is very fast to work with - less than half an hour on each quick sketch. Great for travelling.
|Gorilla box, water colour palett with dried gouache, carried by bike trailer|
|Plein air sketch 6x8 on Terra Skin paper - drawing with Sharpie - Gouache did not cover it|
So what have I got. A small light plein air kit that contains all I need and using dried gouache to be reactivated on use. Simple, cheap, easy. I think I like it. Will see how it goes.