When I started learning how to paint with gouache on watercolour paper, frustration was a constant companion.
My gouache skills were lacking, and my finished artworks felt inadequate. But I quickly realised that mastering gouache, like any skill, takes time and patience.
Today, I want to share my top tips for painting with gouache on watercolour paper.
What you will learn
- Can you use watercolour paper for gouache?
- How to choose the right watercolour paper thickness
- How to stop watercolour paper from curling
- Tips to help you learn how to paint with gouache on watercolour paper
- Can gouache be used on normal paper?
- Which sketchbook is best for gouache?
Can you use watercolour paper for gouache?
Yes, you can use watercolour paper for gouache.
However, it’s recommended to purchase the correct paper thickness. Painting with thick and sturdy paper also enhances your painting experience, making it more enjoyable.
If you don’t purchase thick enough paper, you will have to make sure you’re painting with thick gouache paint with little water.
How to choose the right watercolour paper thickness
To ensure the watercolour paper can withstand gouache, opt for a watercolour paper with a gsm (grams per square meter) of at least 200gsm.
The thickness of your paper is crucial when working with gouache. This is especially true when using gouache with a lot of water, which is similar to watercolours.
While this paper stock typically possesses a matte and rough texture, this characteristic can be effectively mitigated as you gradually build the layers of your gouache paintings.
I use 350gsm A3 Seawhite watercolour paper and cut it to my preferred artwork size. If you’re painting in a sketchbook, ensure the sketchbook paper can withstand both paint and water.
Using thin paper can result in curled edges and may even lead to your brush breaking through the paper due to its lack of thickness.
How to stop watercolour paper from curling
To stop watercolour paper from curling, attach the watercolour paper to a drawing board. Drawing boards are usually available in sizes from A1 – A3. These are usually made out of wood.
You can use bulldog clips or painting tape to secure your paintings to the board. Apply the tape around the paper’s perimeter to act as masking tape.
This way, you can stick your paper to the drawing board and remove with a knife once the gouache painting is complete.
Alternatively, use thick gouache paint with minimal water to prevent curling. If you’re painting in a sketchbook with thick paper stock, attach bulldog clips to the sketchbook to prevent curling while you paint. I regularly paint in a Moleskine sketchbook as it withstands gouache well.
Saying this, you may encounter curled edges while painting even with thick watercolour paper.
Five tips to paint with gouache on watercolour paper
1 – Plan your painting
Before diving into a gouache painting, plan in your sketchbook beforehand.
Consider the colours you intend to use, the composition, and the distribution of light and dark areas, amongst other considerations.
Planning in advance and sketching small thumbnails can help avoid mistakes and changes later in the process.
2 – Use high-quality gouache paints
Investing in high-quality gouache paints makes a big difference in the vibrancy and longevity of your artworks.
Cheap gouache paints often contain less pigment, leading to less vivid colours and unsatisfying painting experience.
3 – Build up the painting with light layers
Start with light layers and gradually build up values.
This allows for better control over colour and prevents the paper from becoming too dark.
I recommend painting with a limited colour palette, painting with only three or four colours. Painting beginners use too many colours, often resulting in confusing and oversaturated paintings.
4 – Keep a piece of kitchen roll or rag handy
Gouache can dry quickly, so I recommend a couple of pieces of kitchen roll or rag nearby.
You can also use it to clean your brushes between colour changes or to reactivate dried gouache on your palette.
5 – Keep your palette and water pots clean
There’s nothing worse than a dirty palette, so I make sure I clean my palettes after every painting session, using water and toilet tissue. This means my palettes are always clean when I want to paint.
I also make sure I use two water pots when painting.
One pot for cleaning my brush, and a clear water pot for when I’m mixing paint. This reduces the amount of ‘muddy’ colours within my palette.
Painting with gouache on watercolour paper can be a rewarding artistic endeavour.
By selecting the right paper, addressing curling issues, and planning your artwork in advance, you’ll set yourself up for success and enjoy a smoother gouache painting experience.
Here’s some of the things we covered in today’s article:
- You can use watercolour paper for gouache, but paper thickness matters.
- Opt for watercolour paper with a minimum of 200gsm to withstand gouache effectively.
- Thin paper may result in curling and paint penetration issues.
- To prevent curling, attach the paper to a drawing board or use thick gouache with minimal water.
- Plan, use high-quality gouache paints, and layer up your paintings to a create successful gouache paintings.
By implementing these tips, you’ll find your gouache painting journey less frustrating and more enjoyable. If you liked this blog post on how to paint with gouache on watercolour paper, check out this article helping you learn all about complimentary colours.
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