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Get to grips with gouache

In the first of two articles, Barry Herniman urges you to consider gouache as he demonstrates the versatility of this medium with two step-by-step paintings


Gouache is similar to watercolour and has the same binding agent, gum arabic, which means that both media can be re-wet once dry, but it can be used on a variety of absorbent and non-absorbent painting grounds (paper, board, canvas etc). It is also similar to acrylic and oil paint in that it can be used in an opaque painting style; because of this versatility gouache really occupies the middle ground among media.

Schmincke gouache

Ever since my supplier Francis Iles* introduced me to Schmincke Artist watercolours I have used them almost exclusively. So it was only a matter of time before they brought Schmincke Horadam gouache to my attention. I just had to try it – what a revelation! Because nothing is added to boost its covering power, the pigments can create crisp colour blends like no other gouache. The paints can be used straight from the tube or thinned with water.

I hope I have given you an insight into this exciting and versatile medium and how it works on different supports. Next month I will be doing a rather more complex gouache demonstration using all these techniques and more.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our June issue with plenty to inspire artists in all media. Watercolourists will love Amanda Hyatt's Five Steps to Watercolour technique with a 10-minute exercise to try, Ann Blockley's invitation to let go of reality and get creative with the medium, Jean Haines' advice on how to paint white flowers, while Julie Collins shows how adding ink can create definition and impact. For inspiration for oil painters don't miss cover artist Jason Sacran's step-by-step self-portrait, Patrick Cullen's article on painting in India and Paul Brown's advice on using just six colours to paint a landscape. For acrylic painters we have Michael Kidd talking about his stylised acrylic compositions, Jo Quigley's demonstration on how to paint successful reflections in acrylics and Marie Antoniou on how to transform a dull photo into an interesting painting, while Barry Herniman demonstrates the versatility of the under-used medium of gouache. With all this and much more, why not try a new medium or technique in the coming weeks under the guidance of our fantastic contributing artists!