Gouache and Watercolour Exploration 2020

I am delighted to have received funding from the Arts Council of Wales to embark on a new project where I will explore plein air painting in water based mediums- gouache and watercolour. This is a project I have been hoping to begin for a while so I'm really excited to begin! I have worked solely in oils for the last 10 years which I absolutely love. I wanted to try out water based mediums after working on island artist residencies where I had to transport a weeks worth of oil paintings over the sea on a small boat! Also just being out in the landscape all day for long hours amassed numerous oil paintings and studies which need to be carried in large wet canvas carriers. I realised I needed to try a lighter approach to painting to explore more, both physically in the landscape and in my work. Fast drying media is ideal.

Aside from the more practical reasons I'm drawn to the transparent textural effects in watercolour paints and their luminosity on the page, they possess such a wonderful light quality. Equally I've been intrigued by gouache- the rich, vibrant opaqueness. I really wanted to try working with them both individually and together to see what range of marks and effects could be achieved.

I have started with a palette that contains the same pigments I use when working with oils. It was tricky trying to choose the right red as names vary so much and reds seem to look different in different photographs online. I tried a couple of small watercolour reds that I couldn't decide between!

Gouache palette (Above)
Not sure why I went for cobalt turquoise...! It may not stay on the palette but it will be fun to try it. May later switch it to Cerulean to match my usual palette.

Watercolour Palette (Above)
Trying out two reds- prefer the Pyrrol Scarlet, it is most like my Napthol red oil paint which is warm clean and bright. I find Cadmium red is quite heavy and dirty. I tried two Ceruleans and found I liked the chromium most as it had more green it, I use this sometimes for the sea in my oil painting. I like to have a good range of blues.

Watercolour to the right, gouache to the left. (Above). I did a long wash that met in the middle to see how well matched the two different paints were. It is pretty seamless apart from that cobalt turquiose meeting with Cerulean... I also opted for a Yellow/ orange in watercolur as it looked nice and bright, there were so many oranges to choose from otherwise I couldn't decide which would work best.

- A closer look at blues, I found with my oils, Ultramarine and Pthalo blue Zinc mixed together make a blue quite similar to cobalt. I wondered if the same could be achieved here as I love working with a light and dark blue.
- Amythyst watercour (a pigment made from crushed Amythyst gemstones). I haven't worked with a purple before and couldn't resist! This pigment has a fine glitter to it. It is quite a dull purple once it dries.
- Lunar black watercolour. I loved the extreme granulation in this pigment and plan to do monochromatic studies using it, I'm also interested to see how it mixes with colours.

I designed and made a simple palette that fits onto my super light aluminium easel. I made the wooden frame first, glued and screwed it, then added correx with a hot glue gun and super strong tape. It's rosbust and light weight. Watercolours go in the back paint wells and gouache are in the front.

Home made shallow tray to carry papers outdoors. Made from correx, glued with a hot glue gun and possibly the worlds strongest tape!

Super strong tape (above), coupled with a hot glue gun anything is possible!

A selection of brushes to try, sables, squirrel mops and synthetics... flats, filberts, riggers and rounds...

The plan next is to produce colour charts to see how my pigments behave and mix and to work on painting techniques that will help me in the field.

Ofcourse I had to run out and try out my new palette and paints first...! I mainly worked on my drawing though as I haven't done much over the course of the lockdown. My lack of skills and experience with these paints was very apparent! Mixing the desired colours was very slow, I didn't know how to achieve any paint effects, paints didn't do what I expected them to nor what I wanted them to do and I couldn't paint fast enough to capture my subject! Just as expected! It was also baking hot so paint was drying instantly which perhaps added to the challenge. Back to the studio to work on painting techniques and getting to know my pigments!

Starting to look at textures that may be achieved using watercolours.

Colour Charts
This is a really useful process that unlocks the pigments hidden potential as I can see how colours behave when mixed with each colour on my palette. I then paint the mix in three values.

Pyrrol Scarlet Red watercolour.
Alizarin Crimson watercolour. (Above).

Cad Yellow Orange watercolour.
Cadmium Yellow Medium watercolour. (Above).

Cad Yellow Light watercolour.
Cerulean Blue Chromium watercolour. (Above).

Another short paint out at my local beach, the gulls were scared off before I'd finished.

Ultramarine blue watercolour.
Manganese watercolour. (Above).

Yellow Ochre watercolour.
Transparent Oxide Red watercolour. (Above).

Transparent Oxide Brown watercolour.
Lunar Black watercolour. (Above).


Popular Posts