“Grace” in Colour

Last week I had finished the graphite part of this drawing.  You can read about the process and see some work in progress photos here.  I could have left it at that but I have been doing so many graphite pieces of late I really felt like adding a bit of colour.  I decided to break out the gouache paints as I like the opaque, flat almost ‘poster paint’ nature of them. None of that pesky, uncontrollable watercolour behaviour! I don’t feel particularly confident with any kind of painting so putting paint to paper is always a bit scary for me   There is always a high risk that I am going to stuff it up royally.  Hence it was quite a few days before I dived in but I am so glad I did.  I am really happy with the end result.

I never worry much about getting a crisp, clean, edge on my artworks as I always figure if I am going to display it, it will be in a frame and I will just get a mat board cut to neatly cover where I have painted outside the lines! This time though I thought I would try masking the edges as a bit of an experiment and see if it’s as easy as it looks. I just used regular old blue house painters tape and made it a bit less sticky by tacking it to my clothes a few times before I stuck it to the paper.

One of the biggest mistakes I make when painting is I never mix up enough colour.  I am far to frugal with my paints and always run out about three-quarters of the way through.  Having to mix up another batch of matching paint can be a total bitch! Especially since I am a bit (ok a lot) haphazard in my colour creations and I never write down what paints or quantities I use, it’s just a bit of this, a little bit of that.

My darling husband found some cute little ceramic dishes whilst cleaning up the garage which I suspect may have been nicked from the local Chinese restaurant at some point. So as well as being good for your soy and chilli sauce, they are the perfect size for mixing up a good batch of paint. They are so brilliant I might have to ‘acquire’ some more of them.


My second mistake, or “skill shortage”, is the ability to achieve a nice smooth, flat, finish with gouache paints. Small areas (like the yellow stripes) seem to go okay but when I hit the larger areas I end up with quite a streaky effect.  I am not sure yet what the trick is to mastering that smooth flat finish (Photoshop? 😅).   I do find the greater the ratio of white paint in a mix the better / smoother it lays down.  I have no idea why that is …it could just be me.  I also thought if I use a bigger brush, I can cover a bigger area with less brush strokes, thus decreasing the opportunity of streaks appearing.

So I got my big brush dipped it in to clean water before I picked up the gouache paint.  I have no idea why I did this but for some reason I thought I needed to have a wet brush.  Maybe this is a watercolour thing?  Anyway it caused the paint to dilute unevenly as I applied it to the paper, hence the streaky effect.  In retrospect it seems a pretty obvious thing NOT to do but… live and learn.  In the areas where I used a dry or only slight damp brush things were much better.  The pink was so bad I ended up applying a second coat which came out much better.

The streaky-ness is not too obvious in the final image.  In fact I actually think a bit of “texture” is nice.   For me one of the really beautiful things about original artworks is being able to see the brush and pencil strokes.  You don’t necessarily see that in prints or in digital works.

Oh… the moment of truth taking off the blue tape!  It was fine – it came off easily with no damage to the paper …hurrah!

"Grace" graphite pencil and gouache paint illustration
“Grace” – gouache and graphite pencil 2018

4 thoughts on ““Grace” in Colour

  1. Well that is blooming excellent!!! Really glad you committed to doing the paint, it really worked well.

    I haven’t used gouache, I thought it was the same/similar to watercolour so hadn’t seen any point experimenting with it as yet. I do have a tube of white gouache though which I bought when stocking up with my beginners watercolour set earlier in the year as I was told it was good for adding a bit of white if you’ve messed up. Is it more controllable due to being thicker?

    Sticking the tape to clothes first is a great idea, and couldn’t be better timed. I taped down the paper for that Mustang painting I posted a few days back, if you look on the bottom right corner you can see where it ripped the paper a bit. I did try with some brown gummed tape which the art shop reckoned was exactly the right thing, it stuck down well when wet but then just curled up away from the paper when dry – utterly useless !!!

    This is great, well done!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I swear regular painters tape worked perfectly! I was worried it would rip the paper as I had left it on for a week but it was fine.
      I like gouache much better and yes it’s thicker. If you make it to thin, like water-colour, it behaves like watercolour. It’s more controllable, you don’t get those watercolour ‘blooms’ or ‘mushrooms’ that watercolour people love. The only worry for some people is it tends to dry much lighter colour. It doesn’t bother me as I’m never trying to replicate a particular colours if my red is a bit more pink ….


      • Those blooming mushrooms!! I’m not a fan so perhaps I’d better have a think about gouache if I don’t figure out how to avoid them.

        The speed I go the tape would be on for a month or more, but I’m going to give it a try. As the ‘proper stuff’ doesn’t seem to work for me I’ve got nothing to lose.

        Thanks again 👍🏻


  2. Pingback: “Hilda”: graphite and gouache illustration

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