When I had lunch at Hog Island Oysters a few weeks ago, I asked for a doggy bag to take home these oyster shells so that I could sketch them. I finally did it, and enjoyed drawing all the rumples and bumps and ridges. Then I painted them with gouache and voila! another sketchbook completed.
I’m finding that using M. Graham and Schmincke gouache paints as if they were watercolors is a very pleasing way to work. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of using them properly opaquely, but using them transparently is quite exciting as they have more pigment load than regular watercolor.
To see if I could figure out what I was doing wrong, I studied my beloved Moira Kalmanbook, The Principles of Uncertainty, since she paints her wonderful, quirky illustrations in gouache. I saw that what I was considering flaws and errors in my application are actually—at least in her work— just part of the character of painting with gouache.
Gouache is such a flexible medium. You can use it opaquely, flat and smooth as in posters; painterly like with oil paints; or transparently as if it were watercolor. Now I’m craving oysters again — some to eat and some to paint.