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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Try Gouache Pans for Underpaintings

'Dog Beach'           11x14           pastel           ©Karen Margulis
 Have you tried starting a pastel with a watercolor underpainting?  How about Gouache? It is a great way to begin. It not only gives you a head start on your painting, it helps you loosen up.  A watercolor or gouache  underpainting is full of surprises. You can guide it but you can never completely control it. Giving up the control leads to more expressive paintings.

There is one thing that I have discovered. You don't need expensive watercolors or gouache sets to get good results with an underpainting.

My Pelikan gouache pan set
Sure, the higher quality artist grade paints will have stronger pigments and resulting colors will be more vibrant. But there are some inexpensive sets that do a decent job. They are perfect to try if you don't  want to invest in expensive materials. My favorite set is by Pelikan. They offer both a transparent watercolor set or opaque gouache set for  $10-$38.

I use the gouache set and love the vibrancy of the colors. Here is a description from  Blick.com  
"These watercolors from Germany are made from high quality pigments of the finest grain size. Easily soluble, they deliver good lightfastness with brilliant, dense colors."
A new gouache underpainting still wet! 
I only do watercolor/gouache underpaintings occasionally.  I am not a watercolorist either. I have learned by doing. I am still learning how to get the best results. I do know that the more I do them the better they will be and for $20 it is well worth the fun!

Today's painting is on Uart with a gouache underpainting.(not shown, I forgot to take a photo)


Sheila said...

I like the under painting as an abstract... it is very pretty :)

Paula Campbell said...

Never thought of using gouache for an underpainting!

Laura Kirste Campbell said...

"Dog Beach" is beautiful! I love the aqua in the horizon and the splash of blue in the foreground.
I work in both pastel and watercolor but have not tried them together. Your colorful underpainting is inspiring! I imagine how the color will peek through the layers. Thanks again for an inspiring post!
Have a colorful day!

Hope Thompson said...

I am a watercolorists, but never thought of using gouache for an underpainting. I definitely an going to try that. Although I like Uart paper, at times I have found the color of the paper to be an issue. And, watercolor on top of it as an underpainting, sometimes seems dull and not vibrant as it would be on a whiter paper. I am anxious to see if the gouache helps to cover the dull color of the Uart paper. Thanks for the idea!

robertsloan2art said...

Great painting. I love the depth and sense of vastness, both the surf and the near ground vegetation is so beautiful. Wonderful piece.

Cool technique too! I used to have this set of opaque watercolors, actually replaced it two or three times from losing it in moves or using it up. The color is wonderful and the way it flows is so great. I've found many uses for it.

I'd like to warn readers against the Grumbacher version, which costs almost the same price. It's not as high quality, the colors do not pick up as well nor do they seem as opaque and pigment rich. Also some of the colors look fluorescent and may not be lightfast if you're using it to do gouache painting rather than underpainting. The Pelikan one is the best. The price difference is negligible. I'll probably give the Grumbacher one to a kid sometime or just stash it with the kid supplies if I have one visit and need to entertain kids.

The box on the Pelikan set is a little odd and harder to stack than the Grumbacher one, but the product is much higher quality.