Friday, July 6, 2012

Gouache is so Underrated

I took a break from my merman portrait to try out gouache. What is gouache? Gouache is a water-soluble paint that can be used transparently like watercolor or opaquely like acrylics. What I mean by transparent and opaque is that the paint can be used in thin "transparent" washes that allow the white of the paper to peer through or you can forget that and use a white tube of paint to mix lighter colors. This combination can mean both two things: gouache is sensitive to how it is applied, but also very  flexible.

In all honesty, my first go with gouache was not a pretty one. I was treating the gouache a little too much like oil paints, slathering it on in hopes that I could achieve the painterly quality I had seen in artworks such as those by the skillful Harry Anderson. Bad Idea. That painting will never more see the light of day. However, I was not ready to give up. I started over with a new painting and different reference photo.
I begin transparently and using only one color. This allows for a very quick under-painting. This stage was exactly the same as my previous gouache attempt, but here I took the time to tape my paper to a clip board so that I could paint on a near-vertical surface rather than the almost horizontal surface of my last painting, which caused a lot of distortion and consequently, frustration. I also developed the under-painting farther than the last painting.
Hey look! A face! There's not much process visible here, but what I did was first use a larger brush to blend semi-transparent layers of paint before moving on to a smaller brush and thicker paint (less water). If a section was thick with layers and I wanted to add more detail, I used a cross-hatching method instead of risking lifting up all of the paint off the paper. Each additional layer of paint = less wate. 
 The ears have been added. I was more successful with these than with some parts of the face as I was able to achieve a seamless blend.

Ch-ch-ch-chia! He has hair now. I used the paint more transparently for the hair, especially the edges, which I softened to add spatial depth. So far, I have only been working on the painting for two days. Gouache is a beautiful thing. With it, you can achieve so many effects in a timely manner.
 And now more of my "visual idea" project. This metaphor is "A blanket of snow fell through the night".
"Fear is a beast that feeds on attention."
"Breaking news."
"Bursting with flavor."
"His mind was caged by depression."

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