Thursday, January 28, 2016

Gouache for Winter Plein Air Painting

Pen & Gouache sketches in 9x12 Strathmore Visual Journal for  Mixed Media
Recently I went to Curtis Prairie at the UW  Arboretum to do a couple quick sketches with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.  I chose it because it covers alot of ground fast and can make a variety of marks. The black ink is waterproof and I wanted to use gouache for color.  Gouache is basically opaque watercolor paint but it can be somewhat transparent depending on how much water is used.  It was well below freezing so painting the colors had to wait until I got home.  Marc Hanson, who used to paint in rural Minnesota and now lives in Colorado, painted great little gouache studies in his car in the winter time.  Like watercolor it needs to be above freezing to paint outdoors with it.
  Last night I watched James Gurney's excellent video "Gouache in the Wild" to learn more about using the medium for plein air painting. It covers basic information about the medium and several demos, mostly plein air and also a still life.  You can view a preview of it on his website:  


  1. John Muir Laws also does a lot with gouache mixed with drawing and watercolor. He uses gouache for lighter tones only, on top of darker watercolor. Just this month he came out with a book on nature journaling, which also has some gouache discussion and examples: The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling.

    1. That's very interesting, thanks! I have his book on drawing birds which is the best how-to book I've seen on the subject. Mr. Laws is very generous with free instructional content on his blog.

  2. Interesting post, Pat! I have not tried gouache for many years. May have to consider it!

  3. Both Hanson and Gurney are always inspiring in small gouache sketches as are you, with these. They have a great presence and I like the brushwork. Thanks for your information on Zest-It. I am still thinking it over and you make some good points.