Preparing a Watercolour Gouache Palette for Painting on Location

Kimberly R. Cammack


Portray on place has been a crucial section of my apply for quite a few several years and watercolour gouache has become 1 of my main products to use, but I needed to locate a way to prepare and transport it as competently as possible without compromising on the features of the material itself. In this article, I share my experiments getting ready a watercolour gouache palette to use on site as effectively as tips for picking your colours dependent on locale, season and ambiance.


Painting on Location

My location painting package has long gone via quite a few, quite a few iterations – from taking a couple of pencils and a h2o brush with a small sketchbook and pre-made watercolour set, to a total bag whole of all the things I like. Employing combined media the way that I do can stop up becoming rather a heavy load on the back!



I like to be equipped to establish layers of opaque paint, but I also like the clear levels you can establish with inks and watercolour. In the past I have taken unique tubes of paint with me, or self curated watercolour palettes, mixing ink and watercolour with gouache or acrylic gouache to get the regularity I wanted. This can be quite a very long approach, and it’s generally messy! My good friends will attest to the truth that I am not the neatest worker, and by the close of a drawing stint I would normally be surrounded by tubes and a quite grubby, sludge coloured palette, complete of half dried out paint that promptly became unusable (and natures detritus did not support possibly). I have been making an attempt to come across techniques to make this less complicated for myself considering the fact that late 2019, right after I took a excursion to London at Xmas to attract at the natural heritage museum with so several elements in my backpack I had to just take a individual overnight bag and my shoulders harm for the future 3 times. These days, I attempt to pack virtually – to be informed of the room that I intend to draw, do a little bit of research and imagine about the colors I may use as well as the resources I may possibly will need.



Why Watercolour Gouache?

I have experimented with a great deal of different supplies mixtures along the way, always with the goal of acquiring the environment of a position. I use dry products like colored pencils and pastels, due to the fact they travel so effortlessly, and you can blend components like the Derwent Inktense Pencils or Faber Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour Markers with a drinking water brush pen. Nevertheless I constantly gravitate again to drinking water dependent paints or inks, and overlook them when I do not have them. I would usually pack a white gouache or acrylic gouache, and then it’s possible a few unique colours that are a little uncommon or more durable to mix. I curated my very own modest watercolour palettes, but when getting to paper struggled to get the opacity I needed in the closing levels of my drawing with out making use of a good deal of pencil. When I initially attempted watercolour gouache, I realised that this medium could address a great deal of the challenges I was getting. I remember the initially colors I picked of the Shin Han Pass Watercolour Gouache had been Indigo, Linden Inexperienced, White and Shell Pink. They have been on advertising, and they sounded exciting and I am absolutely a sucker for an unusual solution but I was sceptical about how they would function, and if they actually could accomplish as equally watercolour and gouache.


Shinhan Go Watercolour and Gouache Hybrid Paint


I ended up rocketing as a result of my initial tubes, and swiftly purchased a different Indigo and White, stressing that they would offer out. (I’m like that – multiples of all my favourites just in case) I ended up applying them often on site. Thanks to the matt character of watercolour gouache, they are uncomplicated to layer and draw over, and they dry somewhat immediately also, which is generally helpful on spot. You can also reach greater spots of flat color with gouache, but I most popular the soft midway place, in which you can nevertheless just about see via a color, and where by lighter spots even now granulate like a watercolour might. The versatility of these paints is seriously what will make them unique for me, and the ability to manipulate them and mix them with other components is so essential in my area drawing kit.



Complications I Encountered

The very first time I experimented with to put my watercolour gouache into a palette, I strike a couple bumps. The first was a pretty standard mistake. These paints are moist and they just take a working day or so to dry – study from me, and really don’t move the palette about prior to they have carried out. The initial time I decanted into a palette I chose the Frank Herring Compact Palette, which is a great sizing, but also has really a huge hole in the base for when your watercolour gouache desires to turn to dust and escape. This is truly what transpired – I seen dazzling purple flakes at the bottom of my bag, and identified that all brighter and lighter pigments experienced cracked, and in the worst scenario, crumbled and fallen out altogether. I persevered by adding much more paints of distinctive colors and some of them appeared to remain in the palette much better. Even so, these paints never behave like watercolour on the page or in the pan, and I observed myself offering up and likely back again to my aged strategies of person tubes and a small watercolour palette.


Finding a Way to Make it the Watercolour Gouache Keep in the Palette

I did not have a issue going again to my outdated way of performing on spot, but I was however frustrated by the person tubes floating all-around at the base of each individual bag I owned. Usually, I pretty much never ever experienced the one I definitely preferred, either. I went back to seeking at palettes, and after inquiring close to found out the Mijello Folding Plastic Palette. My contemplating was that if this palette were airtight, the paint wouldn’t dry out, and to some extent it worked. Having said that, the flaw in the system was that I necessary to open and use the palette in get to paint. Unnecessary to say they also crumbled as perfectly, just at a a bit slower velocity. Once again, I noticed it was the brighter colours that seemed to go 1st.

I had been experimenting with producing some of my have watercolours with unique pigments, and observing that Gum Arabic is regularly employed in the creation of watercolour as a pigment binder, I questioned, could this do the job for watercolour gouache too?


Jackson’s Gum Arabic 60 ml


I selected three main colours, to see if there was any obvious correlation concerning efficiency and pigment makeup. I applied a palette knife to combine a person compact fall of Gum Arabic to approximately a 15 ml of paint, on a dry flat surface (I utilised a airplane tile from a components shop) and blended the Gum Arabic in extensively. I preferred to evaluate how the paint applied normally, and with the Gum Arabic next to each other, so as to see and truly feel any variances.


Preparing watercolour gouache location


I designed swatches of both of those the Gum Arabic and regular paints just before I put them in a palette, to look at how the two options performed. I didn’t anticipate it, but perhaps it can make sense that the pigment seemed to extend additional when blended with the Gum Arabic. I had in the beginning been worried that the pigment would be diluted, which would defeat the function of the entire experiment! The watercolour gouache retained its energy of colour and the matt end, and I still felt ready to construct it to a whole matt block of color.


The left swatches of every single colour are with out Gum Arabic and the appropriate swatches for each individual colour are with Gum Arabic.


I then proceeded to set the Vermillion Hue, Long lasting Yellow and Ultramarine Deep paints into the Jackson’s palette, and left it open up for a day to dry down, and then shut it for one more two times.


Preparing watercolour gouache location


Choosing it up once again following this time, I could instantly listen to rattling, and imagined I’d have to go back again to the drawing board and obtain a different medium to make them past extended and quit breaking. Happily however, it seemed to operate, and the paint with the Gum Arabic in appeared to have a large amount fewer cracks than the pure paint. It was the yellow that had shattered completely, but when the Gum Arabic was in the paint it appeared to last longer. I resolved to persevere and combine much more colors with Gum Arabic, hoping that I was on to something. Across these three colors, there had been even now additional noticeable cracks in the lighter colors, but they appeared to be staying place this time.


Watercolour gouache palette well prepared with Gum Arabic for portray on site.


gouache palette

Leading palette: Devoid of Gum Arabic.
Base palette: With Gum Arabic.


Preparing a Watercolour Gouache Colour Palette

When deciding upon a palette to just take on area, there are several items I like to consider, but the principal one for me is normally the time. For case in point, in the winter I may possibly incorporate an further blue, or an aubergine from the tube, and improve a bright environmentally friendly for an earth inexperienced. In the Autumn I may well increase Burnt Sienna and Gold in its place, to reflect not only the seasonal improvements, but the ambiance of a season.



Each palette I create has a warm and interesting crimson, yellow, blue and white where applicable. From these, you can make virtually each individual color you will need in accordance to color theory, and in the past this is all I have taken out with me. On the other hand, as I draw outside a large amount, and commonly decide on a location with at the very least some foliage (my preference is a complete forest but that is not always useful), I like to take some pre-blended greens. I generally use them straight from the tube, although I will often steer clear of nearly anything known as ‘grass green’ since, in my opinion, that colour title is a lie and practically in no way appears to be like grass. At the moment, in the British isles, there is a shiny, pretty much luminous yellow eco-friendly that arrives through the leaves and grasses when the late sunlight hits the grass in the length. There’s also warmer olive greens of a little bit dry leaves which are colors that I’m reaching for a whole lot, so I chose to have those people in pre-mixed sort in my palette.



I also like to make my possess blacks, as I sense a chromatic black can appear someway extra normal in comparison to a black from the tube, and you can manipulate the color stability to fit your drawing. For this watercolour gouache palette, I selected Brown Crimson, Shadow Eco-friendly and Indigo to go over my ‘darks’ conditions.


watercolour gouache palette


I also opted for some brilliant and luminous unique colors that are either tougher or extremely hard to mix you due to the pigment make-up, and a couple I thought I may use far more of at this time of calendar year. Cambridge appears to have a large amount of purple flowers at the second, so I packed a heliotrope, and of system, hardly applied it. Lastly, I made confident there was a great deal of white, and continue to took a tube along with me – although I did not need to have to use it for this drawing.


Watercolour gouache on location


I found this color vary to function very well for me at the Botanic Gardens in Cambridge. I know the area very well, so had a superior plan of what I may need to have, and I ended up utilizing a ton of the pre-mixed greens as predicted. The most used had been Sap Inexperienced and Linden Inexperienced. I also applied the Luminous Yellow, and a contact of the (nearly luminous) Pink as a vivid, but only in the smallest quantities! I suggest getting a palette with you that you can blend colors from, but also just one that you come to feel most relaxed with. If you know that you adore muted colors, contemplate including a couple of all those and possibly a shiny accent, along with the primary colours and white.


Preparing watercolour gouache location

The assortment of opacity you can get with these paints is excellent for me when functioning on place.


Selecting a Palette

I chose a Studio Essentials Watertight Folding Plastic Palette 18 Nicely with ample area for mixing colors. I know I am a messy employee (the proof is on my palette) so I require the area to blend absent to my heart’s written content. The shallow paint places meant that I did not really feel like I required to mix a large amount of the paint with the Gum Arabic, and was as a result considerably less wasteful (particularly as I wasn’t absolutely sure it would work at this point!) Nonetheless, there is no cause why a standard palette with unique wells would not work for this. It would be worthy of experimenting with filling the wells like watercolour, but I suspect that if you loaded a nicely way too swiftly and didn’t go away layers to dry, the watercolour gouache would be a lot more likely to crack immediately after drying. The airtight palette means that apart the time the palette is in use, the paint isn’t drying out, and consequently boosts the longevity of the paint.



Mark Producing with Watercolour Gouache

I appreciate the array of textures and marks you can get with watercolour gouache. You can really obviously see brushstrokes and places in which the paint is extra opaque. I find this priceless for incorporating flashes of brighter colour, or operating around the top rated of present marks. Typically, it’s quite uncomplicated to work with, for me it is easier than watercolour, and feels a lot more fluid when you squeeze it out of the tube too. You nonetheless get that stunning granulation when you blend certain colors on your palette. When I blended the Ultramarine Deep, Vermillion Hue and Lasting Yellow at distinctive ratios, it was so straightforward to get a textured watercolour outcome. On site I use a refillable drinking water brush pen and owing to the artificial hairs they can just take really a little bit of rough function and continue to retain their condition. Occasionally, I scrape the paint on, and I have been recognised to use my fingers far too to get a softness when the paint is tacky. I should insert that using some sort of damp wipe with you is very essential if you want to check out this process.


Preparing watercolour gouache location



Some Closing Thoughts

I left the palette of watercolour gouache blended with Gum Arabic by itself for a few of months. It is been heat and dry in this article in the British isles, and the palette was saved in packing containers, but I was a little bit upset to see on opening it yet again that a couple of the colours experienced crumbled. Some of them were being the exact same culprits as right before – the Cerulean and White both had deep cracks and were broken. Nonetheless, the Lemon Yellow and Pink seem to have held up a whole lot much better with the addition of Gum Arabic. This is an experiment in which there are a whole lot of variables at engage in, and it could be the way the paint has distribute (or not spread) in the pan, or how comprehensively I mixed the Gum Arabic in. I believe it is almost certainly really worth me introducing a small far more Gum Arabic to the colors that feel to crumble, as the adjust in the regularity whilst portray was nominal in my belief. Or maybe I’ll consider and find a diverse blue that has the exact same operate in my palette, but is happier there! And, of study course, get a different tube of white alongside much too. I do use a whole lot anyway!

If you are likely on a crack for a pair of weeks, and never want to get just about every tube of paint with you, I have located that this palette is a superior alternative and will not just take up that treasured liquid allowance and suitcase room. I’m likely to persevere with introducing Gum Arabic in diverse quantities, predominantly for the reason that I truly feel like I have received an thought I do not want to allow go, but also for the sake of my back again!


Additional Studying

Within the Sketchbook of Frances Ives

Making use of Smooth Pastels for Observational Drawing

Establishing a Daily Drawing Apply With the Royal Drawing University

Critique of Shinhan Specialist Designers Gouache

Tiny Measurement Tubes for Plein Air Oil Painting




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