What is gouache paint and how do you use gouache paint? Gouache is a water based paint consisting of pigment, water and binding agents. It is similar to watercolor because it is not usually waterproof and can be diluted with water to change the opacity. However, gouache is typically used more like acrylic or oil paints in an opaque style. The term gouache refers to the type of paint but also can be used to describe a painting style that is opaque.
Gouache and watercolors can be used together and several brands that make watercolor paints also make gouache and vice versa. Can you mix gouache and watercolor paint? Yes indeed you can!
What is the difference between acrylic and gouache paint? What is acrylic gouache paint? As mentioned above, gouache is usually water soluble. Acrylic paint is plastics based and is waterproof when dry. Gouache is typically matte when dry while acrylic can be shiny. However, there is a newer style of paint called acrylic gouache, which behaves somewhat like a mix between the two and is water-resistant when dry. This is called acrylic gouache or acryla gouache. It is made with an acrylic base that allows it to be water soluble when wet yet water resistant when dry. It also tends to dry more slowly than gouache.
Gouache and acrylic gouache can sometimes be mixed with acrylic paint but it is a good idea to test it out first.
What is the difference between watercolor and gouache paint? Gouache paint is more opaque than watercolor. How is this accomplished? In gouache the pigment particles are usually larger, the ratio of pigment to binding agents is higher, and fillers may be part of the paint as well. This is why you might sometimes find a tube of white paint included when you buy pan watercolors. If the watercolors are mixed with the white paint they can become opaque gouache. Even though gouache is water soluble it can also be layered more easily than watercolor, allowing the artist to cover mistakes or change colors entirely.
Oh and finally, gouache is pronounced “gwash” – easy right?
So now that we know some of the definitions of gouache paint, which gouache paints are best?
Similar to watercolors, gouache comes in both student and professional quality. Student quality will have lower amounts of pigments, and may come in a narrower range of colors. Artist grade gouache can also be called “designers gouache”.
Winsor & Newton is known for high quality watercolor and gouache paints. They use high pigment levels and pure gum arabic as the binder. The paints come in a variety of colors including very bright shades and lightfast colors for fine artists.
If you are looking for an affordable brand of gouache to try working with a new medium, take a look at Royal Talens. The pigments are mixed with dextrin instead of gum arabic, making the paints more budget friendly. Royal Talens might be the best gouache paint for beginners to try first. Royal Talens gouache tubes can be purchased individually or in sets of five or eight tubes.
Horadam gouache is very high quality as no white chalk is used to make the paint more opaque. They are chock full of pigments. Most of their 48 colors are based on a single pigment. This makes them one of the more expensive options, and perhaps more suitable for intermediate and advanced artists. Although if money is no object, these are wonderful paints. Schmincke is definitely one of the best gouache paints on the market. Their watercolors are excellent as well.
Holbein also does not add chalk or other opaquing agents to their paints, so the colors are clean and pure. This is a great option if you’d like to purchase the Schmincke paints but find them outside your beginner’s budget. Holbein can be purchased individually and also as a mixing set of five. Or buy a set of the entire range of 84 colors! Wow that would make one excellent gift for your favorite arty friend.
M Graham is known for their high quality watercolor paints that are pigment heavy, they also make beautiful gouache paints to match. Their colors are mostly single pigments and use honey and gum arabic as binders. The honey prevents cracking and increases flow and moistness. However this also means that the paint will not completely dry on a palette, however this is not as much of a problem with gouache as most artists work directly from the tube. The honey may make M Graham the best rewettable gouache brand. Many artists prefer M Graham and Schmincke as the best gouache brands for their high quality and smooth and creamy textures.
The most popular brand of acrylic gouache for artists is definitely Holbein. The paint contains a water soluble acrylic resin that dries to a water resistant matte finish. The paints are Japanese although the company is named after artist Hans Holbein. Many of my favorite artists use this brand of paint for their gouache paintings due to the bright colors and ease of use.
Are you looking for the best notebook for gouache painting? My favorite is the Strathmore 500 series Mixed Media sketchbook. It’s some of the best gouache paper because it is mostly smooth yet the heavy stock holds up to watery media.
If you want to get inspired to try using gouache it can be helpful to see how other artists use it in their work. Some of my favorite gouache artists include:
And you can get some good tips from these online gouache classes and tutorials:
What is gauche in art? Gauche is a French word meaning unsophisticated, ungraceful and socially awkward. Sometimes people use this to refer to something that they think is ugly, garish, awkward or naive. But other times people just misspell gouache paint, which can also be spelled guache. 🙂
I hope this article helped you find the best gouache paint for beginners, and answered some questions you might have had about how to use gouache paint. Want to learn how to paint with gouache? Be sure to check out these top gouache tutorials.
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