Taking The Train Down The Gouache Road

I’ve mentioned that I’m starting to work with gouache and have posted a couple small results of those activities.  I’ve also filled a garbage can with paper covered in various sized spots of gouache as I’ve tried understand gouache-water ratios, how to lighten colors with white, and the rest.  I really hate doing that stuff.  I guess I’m just not cut out to be a color spot maker.

The other day I was drawing, in my typical pen and ink style, a small steam locomotive.  I was enjoying myself when my brain went off dreaming.  It started thinking about painting that locomotive in gouache.  They say that if you’re going to dream, dream big and this was a whopper.

But I did it anyway.  I’ve never painted anything complex without a proper drawing.  I have painted a couple simple buildings though so how hard could it be?  In short, I was delusional.

I decided to leave my pen and ink drawing alone and made a big beginner mistake.  I thought, “I’m just learning so I don’t need to use good materials.”  I got out a piece of cardstock, drew the main boxes and cylinders of the locomotive and, with a thin layer of Payne’s Gray gouache, drew in the shape of the locomotive… sort of.

Once I had an overall light gray locomotive, I corrected, to the degree that I could, the shape and proportions of the object.  Truthfully, this wasn’t very successful until I started using slightly thicker, darker paint as I brought more form to the boxes and cylinders.  This took me about an hour less than forever because I added and removed paint numerous times.  The paper didn’t help much as the cardstock buckled and seemed to instantly dry the paint.  Next time I’ll take my advise to others and use decent watercolor paper.  Anyways, here’s the result.  It’s a long way from good but I’m pretty happy with it.

gouache on card stock


2 thoughts on “Taking The Train Down The Gouache Road

  1. Roz Stendahl always says to try different kinds of papers, even if they aren’t intended for the medium, because you might discover an interesting result! 😉

    • And good advice that is. However, as a scientist I was taught that the ideal experiment changes one variable, leaving all others constant. If you want to test a new paper, use a technique you already know. If you’re trying to learn something, keep all the other variables constant by using tried and true materials for that medium or method.

      I made this mistake as I have no idea what I’m doing when I try to paint something without an underpinning and certainly not with gouache. Truth is, I’ve used card stock a lot. It’s a great doodling paper. Thicker than sketch paper, very smooth like bristol and it can take light water treatment. Best of all, you can buy a ream of the stuff for about $15. But as a surface where you’re going to be trying to manipulate water medium repeatedly, it’s horrible. BTW, it’s great for ballpoint pen drawing.

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