Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I am quite excited about painting in a new media..... gouache, pronounced "ga- wash". Actually its not new to me as I've used it for years in the back grounds in my watercolor still-life paintings. But now I am using it much as one would use oil or acrylic. paints in a more "painterly" way. I've ventured into other media off and on but always go back to watercolor. Probably because they are so easy to clean up after, don't take up much space, and don't use noxious chemicals. For the same reasons, I gravitated towards the waterbase moku hanga woodblock printing after some years doing etchings and a some relief with oil base ink.

Gouache is sometimes referred to as opaque watercolor. Watercolor is transparent; the whites in a watercolor is the paper showing through, and colors are lightened by diluting the paint with water. With gouache, the colors are lightened by adding white paint. I've got a long way to go on the learning curve as its quite different than painting in watercolor. I'm having a lot of trouble with values. Some of the paints seem to dry lighter and some dry darker. And the same pigments that give a hue in watercolor don't seem to do the same when mixed with white paint. I'm especially having trouble with greens.... maybe thats has something to do with the fact that greens are mostly what I've been working on and there are so many different hues and values out there.

Before trying to paint anything, I did some pages of mixtures of each of my paints with white. I learned a lot by doing these and started doing some testing with mixtures of different pigments, but didn't get too far. I decided to just start painting. Here are the first I've done. The first 3 are fairly small, about 4 or 5 inches high.

This is the view out my studio window done on gray matboard. I thought I wouldn't have to get so picky and tight with detail to get the trees looking like trees. I did a lot of working over. What is so great about an opaque media compared to transparent watercolor is that you can paint light colors over dark.

I went out and took a picture of this mountain and painted it on a piece of watercolor paper, a gray toned one, though the gray doesn't show through. I was happier with my greens and trees in this one.

This is a field of lupine that everyone is commenting on this year. I still felt the need to put a lot of work into the spruce trees to get them to look like spruce trees. I made some changes after this scan.... one thing the white spots in the middle tree.

I must be doing something right, because I sold all three of these pieces to people who stopped into the gallery over the weekend. Encouraging!

I was planning to go camping this weekend, but it seemed too much trouble to get everything ready for just one overnight and I really wanted to stay home and keep painting and work in the garden, so I did.

I worked on this piece on Sunday and yesterday with a few corrections this morning. I did the gouache on top of one of the "beautiful papers" that I did in Anne Bagby's class in April which was done with acrylic on watercolor paper. Anne had said to bring different papers to try and several of the pieces are on heavier papers, not too good for collage and this seemed like a good thing to do with it. The top layer of the acrylic is an acrylic glaze media and the gouache will completely wash off with water which made corrections easier. I don't know if that is a bad thing. There is a bit of tooth in the surface and it's not flaky so it should be OK.

Today I cleaned up the studio and did a couple of little collages. I almost signed up for another print exchange, but I think the painting is going to hold my interest for the rest of the summer.

I stopped my writing at about 9 when I saw that the sun was out and rode my bike down to the beach. It was well worth the trip. there was a rainbow and the sun set at just about 10 and it was a beauty. I took a bunch of pictures and will put some on the next time I post.


Jamie said...

Hi Carole,

Your gouache paintings are beautiful! So vibrant and the depth of colors are amazing, eps in the trees. I know I need glasses but they almost look like photographs. Great job! I'm happy to see that you are experimenting with new mediums.

I'm excited to learn that you'll be going to England. We spent most of our time in the north part of England towards the Scottish border. Absolutely beautiful and the people were so kind. Very down to earth. Do you know where you are planning to visit?

Carole Baker said...

Jamie, I appreciate your postive comments.Thank you so much. I'm really excited about the possibilities of what I might do with these paints.

I'll be going to Cornwall for about a week and hiking some of the coastal trail and then to the Devon Coast for the second week. A few days around London and a short trip to Pisa and Florence.

Aurora said...

hi Carole--
I use gouache all the time to paint textile designs! it is the standard paint to use in the textile design industry--I love it...I find it quite forgiving because you can just paint one color over another.

I bet you will have great fun exploring this medium--I love the painting witth the mountain and the lupins. Did Bonnie tell you I am going to Juneau in early August for my 40th class re-union?

Carole Baker said...

Aurora, Hope you are coming out here too.