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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > May-17 > Watercolour or gouache?

Watercolour or gouache?

Gouache is not just for rescuing a lifeless watercolour by painting opaque layers over muddy washes, says Robert Dutton, who explains how you can use both media to paint expressive landscapes
Glowing Autumn Light – Buttermere, The Lake District, gouache, watercolour and pastel on Canson Moulin du Roy 140lb (300gsm) HP 100 per cent rag watercolour paper, 15×21in (38×53.5cm).

The initial washes were very transparent wetin- wet watercolour overlaid with more opaque and semi-opaque layers of gouache to add depth, especially to the shadow areas. Soft Rembrandt pastels were used to give the final colour notations in several areas for the all-important highlights

Asked about the difference between watercolour and gouache, my students often answer, ‘Gouache paintings are opaque, chalky and watercolours are transparent’. In theory, yes.

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About The Artist

Follow cover artist Henrietta Graham's example and set yourself a challenging project to create a series of paintings on a particular subject matter, or why not try something different from your usual practice to keep your creativity flowing? Our professional artist/tutors offer plenty of ideas this month, from how to paint loose watercolour landscapes by Lea Nixon, unusual compositions from a high viewpoint by Jo Quigley, and how to use pattern to dramatic effect in your still lifes by Penny German. Hazel Soan demonstrates how to paint a lively self-portrait in watercolour, Glyn Macey shows what you can discover by studying Rauschenberg's work and techniques plus we include articles on understanding the structure of the head and how to measure and see more objectively to help improve your figure work. Oil painters will love Martin Kinnear's new series on oil techniques, starting with the importance of value and chiaroscuro, while Charles Williams takes a thought-provoking look at the age-old issue of 'when is a painting finished?' With more besides, you won't be short of inspiration and helpful advice in this month's issue!
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